I shall leave to eminent jurists of this country to legally respond to the Supreme Court’s detailed judgment against Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif’s presidency of his own political party. I shall, however, analyse it on political, common sense and logical grounds.
To begin with, the entire judgment is premised on the Supreme Court’s earlier judgment of July 28, 2017, in which it proceeded to judge Sharif as dishonest based on extremely creative reasoning: that whilst being a resident permit holder of the UAE, Sharif held a position in a company belonging to his son & was eligible to draw a salary, which he didn’t, which therefore became his receivable asset, which he didn’t declare when filing his nomination papers in 2013.
Neither was mens rea (intent to commit a crime) applied in the case, nor the law of the land - Pakistani law does NOT recognise an individual’s receivable as an asset; the court relied on ‘Black Law Dictionary’ (which by the way also does not contain this definition); the court did not provide Sharif an opportunity to refute the charge. For these solid reasons, neither has the wider legal community nor the people of Pakistan have accepted the verdict of ‘dishonesty’ of Sharif. And not once has the court responded to these criticisms. Hence, the decision remains highly questionable.
Secondly, the honourable justices are likely aware that articles 62 and 63 are malafide in nature and contrary to the spirit of the constitution as well as that of Islam, which they tire not of quoting. Can they deny that these articles of the constitution, like some others, are vague, prone to manipulation, and discriminatory in nature? How is moral rectitude, honesty, sagacity, and morality a prerequisite only for parliamentarians, and not for those who sit on judgment on all matters? How not on doctors who we trust our lives with? How not on those we trust to defend our borders and the sovereignty of our land? In Islam, are not all people equal, with equal rights and responsibilities? Yet, no qualms are felt at targeting only parliamentarians with a law discriminatory in nature.
The farce doesn’t end here. PTI leader, a favourite of the powerful establishment, lied in court; changed his statements, hid his offshore company, didn’t declare his assets till he could avail the money whitening scheme of 2002, didn’t declare funds in the bank accounts of his offshore company, and has recently been found to have submitted a forged NOC to the Supreme Court. Yet, he was declared honest and sagacious.
The very selectiveness of application of the axe of articles 62 and 63 even just among parliamentarians speaks of uneven justice.
Next, premising the judgment on party office on an earlier highly questionable judgment reeks of what the entire world’s tongues are wagging about. Even on a stand alone basis, the fundamental right of association has been made subordinate to being sadiq and amin (articles 62 and 63) which, though malafide, are explicitly meant for members of parliament only. Quoting extensively the objectives resolution and Islamic morality, the judgment proceeds to hold up every constitutional provision to ‘morality’, of which the sole arbiters are ‘melords’ who have previously had to supply to non-existent definitions in black law dictionaries. Further, the argument that a dishonest person as president would be ‘controlling’ sadiq and amin members of their party is beyond comprehension at various levels. First, what line of reasoning leads the honourable justices to classify members of the legislatures willing to do the bidding and fulfilling the agenda of a ‘declared dishonest’ person, as otherwise honest and moral? Would the otherwise same honest moral legislators not have integrity enough to quit the party of a ‘dishonest’ person? Doesn’t the assumption to the contrary then hold such party members and parliamentarians ‘dishonest’ and ‘immoral’ by insinuation? Shouldn’t the honourable justices have disqualified all?
Further, by holding null and void Sharif’s decisions with regard to his own party as null and void, and freeing the party candidates to contest as independents was another first in jurisprudence. It has no precedence whatsoever and was unfortunately widely viewed as a political measure to damage the party in the then to come Senate elections. Were the justices so seized with morality that they forgot their pure of heart decision would strike at the heart of the democratic process by making vulnerable one political party?
Still, post the senate election I would beg to know what the honourable justices think of Sadiq and Amin leader Imran Khan’s parliamentary members who sold their votes to the PPP in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, against his moral leadership. I would also like to know the same with regard to the MQM members who sold theirs to the PPP in Sindh. Even further, I would enquire from them what they think of the honest and moral parliamentarians of the PMLN who moved right along to elect dishonest Nawaz Sharif’s nominated candidates despite the courts strictures.
Going by the reasoning of the judgment, perhaps the court can take suo moto notice of the senate election and disqualify the MQM, the PPP and the PTI parliamentary members for horse trading against the wishes of their Sadiq and Amin leaders, and disqualify PMLN parliamentarians for NOT horse trading and following the orders of the declared ‘dishonest’ and ‘immoral’ Nawaz Sharif?
Lastly, I would also like to know what the honourable justices did with the fundamental rights of the innocent PMLN senate ticket holders to associate freely and exercise their political rights by forcing them to contest as independents? Did the court display any sympathy with their rights?
Am I to take it that the cornerstone of our constitution is no more fundamental rights of the citizens of this country, around which it was originally crafted, but morality as adjudicated by the court? If so, I would also appreciate their opinion on the morality of upholding martial laws and taking of oath on usurpers’ provisional constitutional orders.
The writer is a human rights worker and freelance columnist.