Syed Ali Zia Jaffery |
All eyes will be on the news coming out from the building in the feature image of the article. Yes, the 5-member bench will announce the verdict on the Panama Case tomorrow morning. The jurists may go on to end the political career of someone who ordained the ransacking of the very building some two decades ago. If the interim order, the JIT report and the proceedings carried out by the 3-member bench are any guides, then the optimism in the anti-Sharif camp is not akin to delusion.
Democracy and law
A lot has been written about the legal intricacies; judicial activism and the politics behind this seemingly blatant case of corruption.Even a cursory look at Twitter would enable us to identify the polarization that the case has created. Democracy in Pakistan has not thrived due to various reasons to include the presence of a behemoth military but also because of violations of laws and conventions by civilian rulers. While the law has been blown to smithereens by one and all, from the still-alive Bhutto to the licentious Nawaz. The country scores low on both, the procedural and the substantive sides of democracy.
Dictatorships are dislikened because of two reasons: violation of the Constitution and no accountability. It hence makes these two missing elements, the actual discernable features in democracies. Democracy sans accountability is a dictatorship at best. Of political power, John Rawls said:” Political power rapidly accumulates and becomes unequal; making use of the coercive apparatus of the state and its law, those who gain the advantage can often assure themselves of a favored position.”
Panama Papers were not crafted out of positions papers shelved in the MO Directorate at GHQ. Taking a political advantage out of this half volley is not out of the ambit of democracy. Using street power is also not undemocratic by any means.
This is precisely what the Panama Case is all about; the chief executive of this feeble democracy is accused of corrupt practices. In all earnestness, the aberrations, and discrepancies are nothing but direct negations of the “sacrosanct Constitution”. Yes, it is the very Constitution that they all want to safeguard from the big daddy sitting in Rawalpindi.
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Panama Papers were not crafted out of positions papers shelved in the MO Directorate at GHQ. Taking a political advantage out of this half volley is not out of the ambit of democracy. Using street power is also not undemocratic by any means. Hearing a petition in the court of law against an elected premier is by no means out of bounds of democracy.
Now coming to the question of whether the top court can send Nawaz packing. The Constitution allows the Supreme Court to disqualify him. There are evidences aplenty going against him and his kith and kin. Like them or not, but articles 184(3), 187(2), 62 and 63 are a part of the holy Constitution.
While the opponents of the family dished-out documents after documents, the Sharif family relied, admittedly on forgery and the misuse of public office.
If the court is mollified that the Nawaz and his family were unable to render, verify and justify the accumulation of wealth it can send the public office holder home. Let the author reiterate that this act is in-line with the Constitution.
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Justice hinges on fairness; the petitioners and the accused were given enough time present their cases. While the opponents of the family dished-out documents after documents, the Sharif family relied, admittedly on forgery and the misuse of public office.
The Thana and Kacheri culture in the country do not allow commoners to wave hands before being investigated. PM and his family went to the JIT with Afridi-esque celebratory gestures with their sidekicks blabbering and chest thumping.
Perhaps, supporters of democracy must thank the ICIJ for pulling off the Panama story, for it helped bring the ruling family to account, and that too through the due process of law.
Rule of law and its applicability on one and all is an essential feature of democracy. Attempts to impede and obstruct transparency dent democracy more harm than any Napoleon do. Apparently, the Sharif family and the henchmen tried tooth and nail to discredit a plain and simple legal course. They castigated the very JIT whose institution was well-celebrated by them way back in April.
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Perhaps, supporters of democracy must thank the ICIJ for pulling off the Panama story, for it helped bring the ruling family to account, and that too through the due process of law. For a country where people are reticent to challenge the wrongdoings of their superiors in office, the case, regardless of the decision is no mean feat. Ousting profligates with the help of law is a boon for democracy; it will also shut the doors for the boys in uniform. Even a 5-nil whitewash would not be a disfavor to democracy.
Syed Ali Zia Jaffery is a Research Analyst and Sub Editor at Global Village Space.He frequently writes on defense and strategic affairs but cricket is his passion above else. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.