The page in front of my eyes as blank as my mind. I can’t see anything, predict anything, after the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s amazing Panama judgment. I have not come across a single legal or other mind that is not stupified by the tenuous reason found by the court to send a third time elected Prime Minister home. By the merits of the case, and the principles of justice a layman even like myself is aware of, disqualification was impossible. And then, in the most dramatic fashion, the Prime Minister was sent home by not even a majority, but by the unanimous bench of five – for exactly the same reason that’s been written about and discussed to death ever since the verdict was handed down.
If it could be said to be true that the Prime Minister will be disqualified when pigs will fly – such was the lack of evidence and weakness of the case, and a complete absence of the fulfillment of the procedural and trial requirements – then pigs flew on Friday, July 28, 2017. They took to the wing, cavorting, gliding, soaring and diving while the country and the world watched aghast.
Hence you can’t blame me if I can’t see into the future anymore. I have lived through the impossible. Or what every man and woman of reason, sense and integrity thought was impossible – because they did expect some measure at least of reason, sense and integrity, plus wisdom and responsibility from the court they looked to, not for the prime minister’s future, but for their own futures. So important was the decision and so grave the potential consequences, the verdict of this case was to have a bearing on the lives of all ordinary Pakistanis, not just on the lives of those being heard in the court.
Will the other protagonist in this drama, PTI’s chairman Imran Khan, be disqualified too? I don’t know. Reason doesn’t come into play here, remember? But I certainly hope not, because two wrongs wouldn’t make a right, instead make a complete mess of this country and its citizens’ future. Enough harm has been done by the repeated use of one malafide clause or another of the constitution of Pakistan, against elected prime ministers, and snatching of people’s mandate time and again. This has to come to an end.
Pakistan’s Supreme Court has tragically been slipping down the slippery slope of populism ever since the reinstatement of Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry. But the Panama Papers decision does not meet even that misplaced criteria. If the honourable judges tune away from a couple of cheerleading channels, and walk among the people, they will surely be faced with uncomfortable reality. It has most likely become eminently clear to the court already that the people of Pakistan are pointing fingers, because they cannot see justice to have been seen to be done. The honourable judges have most likely sensed the public reaction and mood, which, one is afraid, is neither positive nor respectful.
Instead of more disqualifications based on a flawed law, a flawed process and no trial, the court must redeem its own honour and the country’s future by reviewing its decision by a full bench. But I’m sure the honourable court doesn’t need my advice to not disqualify the other protagonist.
Looked at from a completely different angle, the other protagonist was promised the ouster of the elected prime minister and the seat of premiership by players in the shadows. So to my mind, he cannot quite come under the same gavel he was promised would only fall on his enemy. Because he has proven himself to be so unpredictable and unstable, that he would immediately throw out all the toys from the pram. Maybe blurt everything out. So it must appear to him as if he is still supported by the usual quarters and their wings in the media. A much better way for the puppet masters to rid themselves of him would be through other means, that could be made to look like thrusts from the Sharifs and the PMLN, and their sympathisers in the media.
I don’t know what will happen. But some of this ‘other means’ seems to have begun to play out for the playboy.
The writer is a human rights worker and freelance columnist.