News Analysis |
Renowned lawyer and constitutional expert Aitzaz Hussain has claimed that former premier Nawaz Sharif is setting the ground for another attack on the Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan. Aitzaz stated this while giving an interview to ARY News on Wednesday night. He argued that Nawaz has attacked the SC in the past and he won’t hesitate to do it again to distract attention from his corruption cases in the accountability court.
Nawaz Sharif was disqualified as the prime minister of Pakistan by the SC in its landmark Panama Papers’ verdict on 28th July 2017. Ever since his disqualification, Sharif has adopted an anti-judiciary rhetoric, holding a number of rallies all over Pakistan to gather support for his cause. Nawaz, with the help of his daughter Maryam Nawaz, argues that he was disqualified over not receiving a salary from his son. He has also repeatedly been accusing the SC of holding a grudge against him and has issued statements in the past which have been deemed as threats to the judiciary by media and political circles.
In the light of this background, Aitzaz Ahsan— the senior leader of the PPP, former senator and founder of the Pakistan Lawyer’s Movement (2007-2009) — argued that Nawaz is building up the atmosphere for an imminent attack on the Supreme Court with a mob. He quoted the example of the 1997 attack on the SC, led by the supporters of Nawaz Sharif while hearing of a contempt case against Nawaz was taking place inside the court.
The building of the SC was attacked by an unruly mob on 28th November 1997. The mob hurled abuses against the SC judges and stormed the courtrooms and vandalized property. The police at that time also made no attempts to stop the attackers. Late Justice Sajjad Ali Shah was the chief justice of Pakistan at that time and he was the one hearing the contempt of court case against Nawaz Sharif when the notorious attack took place.
The attack was instigated, supported and aided by the leaders of Nawaz Sharif’s party Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) which was also the ruling party back then. No action was taken against the attackers at that time but even after the fall of Sharif’s government in 1999; only ceremonial punishments were awarded to the attackers in 2000 by the Supreme Court. The real perpetrators of the attack, allegedly Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif, were never named and punished.
Aitzaz Ahsan argued that Nawaz is trying to recreate the environment of 1997 by blatantly attacking the judiciary in public gatherings and creating the impression that the SC judges are biased and are acting as the puppets of the military. Explaining the backend thinking of Nawaz, Aitzaz explained that Nawaz wants to distract the attention of the public from the 3 graft cases going on against him in the accountability court.
Nawaz has repeatedly failed to provide the money trail of his foreign companies, first in the SC, later in front of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) and now in front of the accountability court. Having exhausted all resources to get off these corruption cases, Nawaz Sharif is left with no option but to repeat the 1997 spectacle. Aitzaz stated that the judiciary should have taken notice of his anti-judiciary rhetoric when he held the first rally from Islamabad to his Jati Umra residence since it would have nipped the evil in the bed.
The situation has changed now and Nawaz wants the SC to take notice of contempt as it will provide more fuel to the anti-judiciary fire that Nawaz has been brewing ever since his disqualification. A contempt notice will add weight to his arguments and he’ll be able to claim with more vehemence that the courts have a personal grudge against him. The SC judges have been very lenient against Nawaz since they dismissed two contempt petitions against him in the past two days. According to many analysts, the court is waiting for the accountability court verdict against Nawaz before they will tighten their grip on him.