It’s time for some bitter truths. Without the series of mistakes you made, the most transparent conspiracy of our times would most likely not have succeeded. Without those mistakes, you might still have been in your chair and driving the country forward.
Did the seventy year history of this country not teach you that when guns and nooses are not used, the Supreme Court of the country is used to get rid of Prime Ministers and civilian governments. Doing good by the judges also does not always pay off, as is evident in the case of restoring them to their positions or not prosecuting sons of Chief Justices for obvious corruption. That is not insurance enough against miscarriage of justice. And the reason for that is that judges are also human and humans not only err, but have files of their misdeeds complied for years in certain quarters. Additionally, they too have sons who can be kidnapped and taken to Waziristan. They are vulnerable people. And like most humans, when threatened they will offer you up and not take the brunt themselves.
This was the most important thing to understand, but you didn’t. Because had you understood this, you would never have opposed the repeal of Articles 62 and 63 from the constitution at the time the 18th amendment was being drafted. Furthermore had you understood this, your most important legislative undertaking during the past four years would have been repeal of Articles 62 and 63, and not the legalisation of military courts or the other passing of the other black law, the PECA (prevention of electronic crimes act). It is now very hard to figure out whether to laugh or cry when your IT minister asks under what law the JIT spied on you. The same minister who declared every opponent of PECA a foreign funded agent. I personally appealed to PMLN members of the house to not bulldoze the PECA through, because its first victim will be the government itself, and later everyone else. My voice fell on deaf ears. And then only a couple of months ago the sword of PECA was used to wipe out your party’s voluntary support on social media.
Prime Minister, you of all people should have known not to let your party take Mr. Imran Khan and his cohorts to court using the same malafide Articles 62 and 63 in a bid to make them to back off. Because doing so validates this sword the military hangs over all parliamentarians and democracy as a whole. Instead, PML-N should have worked on repeal of these Articles whilst at the same time challenged in court as discriminatory in nature and hence violative of the fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution.
Never, never gift the parliament’s powers to the courts, Prime Minister. You were also advised to use your full legal rights, which you waived, to the whole country’s detriment. Did President Zardari not face the conspirators with legal immunity? One can understand that you were confident in your stance and in your ability to not let corruption be proven against you. But your confidence in the judiciary to abide by the law and do justice was utterly misplaced, for the very reasons outlined earlier. Once again, when it was eminently clear that the Supreme Court’s formation of the JIT was illegal and unconstitutional, you should have smelt the rat and refused to submit to the absurdity.
In 2014, all opposition parties stood with you like a rock against the same conspiracy. This time they have stepped back, especially the PPP. In 2014 your were begged to make parliament extant. But you and your cabinet continued to remain absent from parliament, with the result that now when you need the entire parliament with you, you appear fairly isolated.
Yes, Prime Minister, all this is not fair. The judgment against you turns on the laughable verdict that you ‘concealed’ receivable asset of AED 1000 a month from a company that had begun to be winded down at the time you were filing your nomination papers with the Election Commission of Pakistan. It is clear to the world that an inadvertent and minor omission has been pounced upon as ‘concealment’ as a means to an end. Forget all the great legal minds of the country who have condemned and criticized this judgment with detailed arguments, the ludicrousness is obvious to every lay person. The absurdity of a man declaring assets and income in crores, but hiding a couple of lacs is not lost on anyone. Nor is the lack of suggestion of a motive to hide, or lie about, a thousand Dirham lost on anyone. Nor is the lack of holding up the act of omission to the test of ‘intent’ lost on anyone. To declare someone not honest or sagacious, the intent to dishonesty must be proved beyond reasonable doubt. Nor is the irony of Articles 62 and 63 being Islamic injunctions, with ‘niyyat’ or ‘intent’ being central to Islam, is lost on anyone. In Islam, ‘intent’ is everything, without which neither sin nor crime are considered sins or crimes. Yet the honest and sagacious judges without considering intent held you not to be so.
But that is the whole point, why did you think you could expect law and justice from a forum which has always stood with dictators whenever the tussle is between the country’s establishment and democratic governments? Your party now owes it to the country to safeguard the mandate given to you and the party. Your party owes it to the citizens to repeal these Articles meant to steal the people’s mandate. Your party also owes it to the people of this country to file a review petition, and give a basic accounting lesson to the learned judges and inform them that ‘receivable’ for a person is neither an asset nor an income under any tax rule, and therefore neither mandated to be declared nor taxed.
Come what may, Prime Minister, bring the reasonable opposition together, make the House extant, and protect ‘the system’. The people of Pakistan have suffered enough at the hands of conspirators. Oh, and please get some sensible advisors while you’re at it.
The writer is a human rights worker and freelance columnist.