Article is written about Panama Leaks case.(Editor note)
On May 5, 2016, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists(ICIJ) leaked documents, which illustrated how wealthy individuals and public officials kept their personal financial information private; with record of fraud, kleptocracy, tax evasion and offshore companies.
This became a heated issue in Pakistan, when the names of the first family were nominated in the leak; and we reacted to it in the most Pakistani manner -by turning our heads the other way.
The Panama leak issue became prominent when the incumbent’s arch-rival, Imran Khan, decided to extract political mileage from it and started grilling the PM & his family in his intense tirades; it eventually created a schism and roused a country-wide debate about off-shore companies.
The ruling party (PML-N) decided to stonewall the issue, until consigned to oblivion.
The institutions of deterrence –SECP, SBP, FBR, NAB– proved to be toothless, when they could not take effective action regarding the matter and the Supreme Court(SC) dismissed the petition on the issue, regarding it “frivolous”; but the firebrand PTI supremo was not prepared to let the issue go and threatened to lock-down the capital until the PM conceded to ‘investigation or resignation’.
The cauldron was over heated, when the PTI along with its compatriots started marching towards the capital and fumigated into a no holds barred street brawl between PML-N and PTI. Then an unstoppable force collided with an immovable object, and the twin-cities (Rawalpindi & Islamabad) went into a warlike state – police brutality, tear gas, container blockages and frequent arrests and a loss of $ 3.5 billion in the stock market.
Finally, due to mounting pressure the SC stepped in to take notice of the issue and Imran postponed the lockdown, one day before the main event. While the PTI hailed this movement as their D-Day, others are calling it euphemism for retreat, as some would call it Imran’s signature U-turn.
But was it a U-turn, or a pragmatic decision?
Let’s examine the facts. Yes, the PM had asked the apex court to form a commission to look into the matter, but the commission would have been toothless.
An interesting fact about that commission was that it would have been formed under ‘The Pakistan Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1956’- under which the judiciary carried out the investigations and submitted its findings to the parliament.
Some of the notable commissions formed under this act are: Hamood ur Rehman commission, Saleem Shahzad Commission, Laal Masjid Commission, Memogate Commission, Najafi Commission, OBL Commission; and the reports of those commissions are probably buried under the dust of a clerical cupboard.
However, as a result of the Dharna 2.0, the issue would now be addressed under article 184(3) of the constitution of Pakistan- as a matter of public importance; wherein the SC has complete jurisdiction over the matter and is not accountable to the parliament in any way.
Moreover, the apex court also advised the incumbent and the opposition to form a consensus over the terms of reference (TORs), and in case of the contrary the court would decide the TORs by itself; consequently starting the much awaited ‘talaashi’, which also happens to be the PTI’s primary demand.
The SC would, hopefully, issue an expedient judgment with Imran breathing down its neck, and justice would not be sacrificed on the altar of democracy. Now the ball is in the judiciary’s court and the whole nation awaits the decision.
Does this mean that Imran is a saint, who can do no wrong? No. Did Imran do it solely for the public, without the expectation of political gain? Definitely not! But this does not, in any way, mean that the issue is not alarming. Even if the allegations on the PM are canard, it does not mean that he could not be held accountable. Whether the decision was U-turn or a right turn is totally impertinent; but the matters should not be dealt as fait accompli, and the PTI have achieved that to some degree.
The article is written about Panama leaks case. ( editor note)
Sufyan A. Raja
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