Step down, Mr Prime Minister

Mr Prime Minister, one is aware that you’re sick to the back teeth of cricket analogies in recent years, but considering your own parallel career as a successful batsman at Lahore Gymkhana, which further paved the way for slash careers, one can’t think of a better way than rotten parallelism to hint at what might actually have transpired in SC’s Court No. 1 around 2 pm on Thursday.

Mr Prime Minister, think of a batsman – like your good self – who has been caught at silly mid on after an inside edge on to the back pad. The entire stadium heard the nick, the big replay screen shows clear deflection, the bowler and the fielding captain are dead sure that they have you, and all eyes are on the umpire.

The umpire, just like your good self, is perfectly aware that you’ve nicked it. The only question for him is if the ball was caught cleanly.

He consults the square-leg umpire. Both nod in agreement that you, currently at 62 not out, should be dismissed. But considering that you’re the skipper of the batting team that is chasing history, the on-field umpires want to reconfirm with the third umpire before they take the game-changing decision.

Let’s not forget that even if the umpire had given you not out, the fielding captain could’ve taken the decision to the third umpire through the DRS – it’s not the 90s anymore.

The umpire gestures the referral to the TV umpire, and the soft signal is ‘out’ – i.e. unless there’s conclusive evidence to prove the contrary, you will be dismissed.

Would you, Mr Prime Minister, give the cameras a fist pump following the referral and share gulab jamuns with your partner at the non-striker's end?

Would you ask your team members to issue press statements on how you’ll not only complete your century but would strike a double ton, all the while the third umpire is reviewing your future?

As brouhaha goes on in the stands, and the field, consider this, Mr Prime Minister: even though reaching that elusive century would help your team make history, walking away – when you know that the catch was fairly taken – would strengthen the rulebook and transform the sport.

What, then, would you pick?

Mr Prime Minister, you’re currently risking judicial disqualification that the 5-member Supreme Court bench might have shied away from in exercising all the liberties that legal realism grants, to come up with an open-ended verdict that ensures ‘political stability’ in the country, even if temporarily.

This ‘stability’ comes at the cost of pre-election sloganeering based solely on an individual’s designation rather than any empirically gauged deliverables over five years. This ‘stability’ also shackles your party despite the comfortable electoral majorities, and the overwhelming successes in by-elections and local bodies polls.

You know electoral manifestos are going pear-shaped when the PPP starts calling you out on corruption and load-shedding.

Mr Prime Minister, clinging on to the seat by the skin of your teeth, you can’t help but be completely bogged down by the military establishment. The ISI and MI officials in the Joint Investigation Team are there for a reason.

This means not only populist anti-India slogans ahead of the elections, but also de facto undoing of whatever little you’ve managed to accomplish in the name of progressive foreign policy. Similarly any ground you might have gained on the security front, irrespective of the veracity of the high profile media leaks, would be lost before you can manage to shift in the PM’s seat.

Such pressure has always translated into you hankering after jihadist groups to bank on their support – electoral or otherwise. Whether longsighted alliances with ASWJ to help reaffirm your stranglehold over Punjab, or short-tem fixes like mustering the Difa-e-Pakistan Council’s backing amidst threats of the capital’s lockdown in November.

Political insecurity tends to wake up the Islamist inside you, Mr Prime Minister. And so, it would be hard for you to make ‘religious diversity Pakistan’s strength’ as your secularist alter ego had so vociferously proclaimed at the Holi event last month.

Granted you’ve never been one to rely on the ethical fight in the electoral ring, but one hopes you realise that the entire CV of your main adversary is based on the political mileage he’s patched up from the moral high ground. Your stubbornness would give his tank a free refill.

But let’s shelve the scary thoughts and mull the options that you have.

Not sure if you mistook it as a compliment – just like the rest of the 540 pages – but in implying that you were the Godfather of Mario Puzo’s creation, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and Justice Gulzar Ahmed have already maintained that part of your wealth has been illegally amassed.

The burden of proof, thence, has now shifted towards you to prove your claims over the London flats, Gulf Steel Mills and the AED 12 million invested in the Al-Thani family’s real estate business, while the now legendary Qatari letter stands nullified.

Between the two of us, Mr Prime Minister, how would you concoct a money trail when we know that none exists? Of course, the honorable bench probing the authenticity of documents doesn’t help either.

Even so, what’s more damning is that it isn’t the corruption, but your dishonesty that would likely stamp your disqualification under Article 62 of the Constitution, even if the JIT’s NAB, SBP and SECP officials write the money trail for you on their typewriters.

One isn’t sure if your legal team has conveyed this to you, but the Supreme Court’s Panama Papers verdict boils down to this for you: kindly step down yourself and ensure political continuity, or we’ll make the decision for you once the JIT stage show culminates in 60 days.

The only other outside shot that you have is early elections. But do you really want to risk them amidst the load-shedding and as the fruits of many of your infrastructural projects remain quite a few months away?

Would you rather edge out the elections or, dare one say, risk losing them to remain the PM for now, or would you rather aim for the more sweeping win for your party that many predict for 2018?

In clearing Maryam Nawaz’ name from the case, the Supreme Court bench has perhaps made the decision for you themselves, haven’t they, Mr Prime Minister? Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to pass on the torch ahead of schedule then.

Take your gloves off and walk away, Mr Prime Minister and trust the batters due in next to make the remaining runs. The umpires have already clarified that they’d display the right decision following the referral. Why don’t you take it yourself for the future of your sport and your team?

Kunwar Khuldune Shahid is a former member of staffHe can be reached at Follow him on Twitter

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