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Why accountability of house of Sharif is in doubt?

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The conspiracy theory says Nawaz is back. The media’s narrative is built on Nawaz’s ability to penetrate the system and apparent success in averting the ongoing crises. The ruling party, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is giving an impression of having reached a settlement which led to the acquittal of younger Sharif in the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case.

According to a World Justice Project survey report released in 2017, Pakistan ranks at 106 among 113 countries in the category of the civil justice system. In a country with such justice credentials, only a fool would think that an impartial justice system prevails in Pakistan. The survey, which was conducted in collaboration with Gallup Pakistan shows criminal justice in Pakistan being ranked 81 among the 113 countries. With due respect, the results show that the merit of the system is highly questionable across the board.

If one buys the argument that Nawaz was forced out by powerful institutions as Nawaz and his supporters have continuously alleged, would they now mind telling what design is at work in Shahbaz’s swift acquittal?

This report highlighted the extremely bad status of Pakistan’s justice system. It is not possible for an ordinary person to go to court and get relief. In such untrustworthy and highly questionable system, how would one expect to witness the rule of law and justice on facts?

This is why apparently a political investigative report on the corruption of global big-wigs in Panama Papers was perceived as conspiracy against the ruling family and Pakistani elite.  

Read more: Momentum of Sharif family accountability increases; Hudaibiya scandal resurrected

Politically driven it may be, given that it proved to be a life-line for Imran Khan’s Tehrek-e-Insaf, considering that he [Imran] failed to mobilize and damage political power of Sharif’s. The fight in courts was epic. While, the historical decision of disqualification of Nawaz Sharif may appear controversial on the grounds of his ousting on an ‘ iqama’, but it was hailed as a beginning of overhaul in the justice system. Many analysts and commentators openly criticized the verdict for not following the facts but popular sentiments.

The counter-blast allegations in Jahangir Tareen’s disqualifications were denied by Apex Court in its 80-page verdict. It created confusion over the disqualification based on interpretation of the trust deed for Hyde house (which was lawfully built and successfully presented a complete money trial). Post twin-judgment, Nawaz continued his rhetoric on duality and lack of transparency and biasedness and involvement of powerful institutions.

Why Zardari received a clean chit from NAB, despite apparently strong pieces of evidence? How can accountability court adjourn hearing of such an important case till January 2, 2018?

Chief Justice Pakistan Saqib Nisar defended his judgments and criticized those attempting to malign judiciary. In a fiery and aggressive speech, he said, “Judiciary is not part of any [political] design or plan and the judges are performing absolutely independently”.

Read more: Maryam accuses Supreme Court of spewing venom against Sharif’s

His most crucial comments were, “Had someone been able to dictate the judges, the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case judgment would not have turned out the way it did.” But students of law wonder: If Pakistan’s judicial system were as clean as portrayed by the honorable justice, World justice report and ground realities would be different.

In this country, cases linger on for years. Pakistan’s legal system generally favors the defense and is exceptionally flexible. It barely achieves around 5-6% conviction rate in murder cases; in corruption cases and white-collar crime the conviction rate is abysmally low.

Politically driven it may be, given that it proved to be a life-line for Imran Khan’s Tehrek-e-Insaf, considering that he [Imran] failed to mobilize and damage political power of Sharif’s.

In this agonizingly slow system, Supreme Court has now restricted Accountability Court to conclude criminal proceedings against the house of Sharifs and Ishaq Dar. To political observers, the recent trend in accountability proceedings thus hint at apparently same trend or allegedly some settlement to smooth things up for the Sharifs. In Pakistan’s judicial system, it’s hard to proceed irrespective of whether you are politically influential or not. But, if you are Sharif or Zardari, chances of acquittal in high profile corruption cases simply multiply.

Read more: Nawaz Sharif represents the predatorification of politics

Why Zardari received a clean chit from NAB, despite apparently strong pieces of evidence? How can accountability court adjourn hearing of such an important case till January 2, 2018? Why NAB allegedly crafts a weaker lawsuit against the new PML-N prime ministerial candidate? Shahbaz Sharif’s acquittal in such a high profile case in such a quick time questions the merits of the judgments.

Even, if one buys the argument that Nawaz was forced out by powerful institutions as Nawaz and his supporters have continuously alleged, would they now mind telling what design is at work in Shahbaz’s swift acquittal? This is not only a question emanating from the television screens but is the dominant whisper on the streets.


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