Media trials, mudslinging and the fight for accountability
Notwithstanding the fact that the Panama Leaks case is sub judice and as such it should not have been the subject of comments and interpretations by the stakeholders, it has become highly politicised. Thanks to the media courts that are held by electronic channels every day the SC hears the case, the political point scoring by the rivals through their respective interpretations of the remarks of the judges and questions that they ask the attorneys. For two and half years the nation had to face the ordeal of a campaign against rigging that proved to be a hoax in the end but not before accruing great economic losses to the country and muddying the political landscape. Since April the Panama Leaks case is being used as a whipping horse by the political opponents of the government, especially PTI which is absolutely frustrated and hell-bent to find a political opening for itself after having faced successive reversals and losing political space to the ruling party in all the elections including by-elections to national and provincial seats, local bodies and AJK polls. For PTI it looks a do or die last ditch effort to challenge the PML-N which it believes could be achieved if the Prime Minister could be shown the door as a consequence of guilty verdict in Panama Leaks case by the Court.
The public rallies being held in different cities by Imran Khan and his unrelenting discourse on Panama case giving judgments on the proceedings of the court, is therefore a well thought out strategy by the party to pressurise and influence the judges. To be honest all parties to the dispute including the PML-N wish the vindication of their respective positions. It was probably in the backdrop of the situation created by the political rivals by interpreting the remarks of the court according to their own wishes that during the hearing on 27 January Justice Asif Saeed Khosa warning against dictation to the court remarked that verdict in the Panama case would be given in accordance with law after hearing all the parties. That is exactly what the apex court or for that matter any court should be doing. Justice is best served when it is done in conformity with law rather than playing to the gallery or other considerations. Our nation has suffered a lot in the past due to the conduct of pliable judges.
However it is really encouraging and satisfying to note that at present the judiciary is quite independent and it has through its verdicts and interventions in the cases of public interest proved its credentials as a true custodian of the constitution and rights of the people. In the present case it is desirable that the SC delivers the verdict as soon as possible so that the country gets rid of an ambience of uncertainty and confusion. The decision one way or the other is surely going to have political fall-out and even provoke the losing parties to criticise and castigate the court for giving a verdict against their wishes and political ambitions as we have seen on a number of high profile cases in the past. But court being a court of law has to rise above all such considerations and while declaring its verdict should be guided only by the law. Verdicts given according to law invariably have far-reaching impact as for as dispensation of justice and establishing the rule of law in the country is concerned. Justice is a pillar on which the edifice of a nation can be built and safeguarded. A society bereft of justice is bound to disintegrate. Therefore justice must not only be done but it should also be seen to be done.
Hopefully, the Panama ordeal would be over in the near future and whichever way it is decided, it is incumbent upon the political parties to accept it and try to move forward. The country is faced with grave challenges and the distractions like rigging hoax and Panama Leaks have to some extent scuttled the efforts to tackle those challenges effectively, though the government unruffled by these machinations of the opposition parties, especially PTI has been able to achieve considerable success in putting things in the right direction with respect to the inherited issues like terrorism and economy.
The country nevertheless needs political stability as apart from the legacies of the past, there are other very important issues to be taken care of, like changing the system of governance and making it people friendly rather than serving the interests of the elite, changing the way we elect our leadership and above all putting the genie of corruption in the bottle which has pushed the country into a crucible of precipice. Regrettably, the political parties in the opposition have not shown real concern in regards to these issues but have kept up the tradition of politics of self-aggrandisement. A collective effort on their part is required to usher in a real change in the political culture and the system of governance.
We need a break from our unenviable past. Therefore our politicians must abandon the tradition of insulting the mandate of the people by trying to dislodge the elected governments mid-way their mandated term. The future of this country lies in more and more democracy as envisioned by the father of the nation. Any deviation from this path and adoption of undemocratic means to effect fall of the governments is going to harm democracy and development of state institution besides encouraging the anti-democracy forces to rock the boat. I am sure the Quaid must be turning in his grave to see what our politicians and establishment have done to his Pakistan.
Our politicians therefore need to go back to the drawing board on which the architect of Pakistan has drawn the contours of Pakistan that he wanted to build and find the desired destination. History is a witness to the fact that only those nations have achieved distinction in the world which were and are led by honest, committed and dedicated leaders who invariably thought and acted in the national interest. In a democratic dispensation the opposition parties have the right to criticise and oppose government policies and to keep a check on the indiscretions of the ruling party but all that is done with a view to promote national interests and well-being of the people. It is therefore advisable for all the political parties who are vying to bring the government down to change their course and allow it to complete its tenure and keep faith in the people of Pakistan who are the real arbiters about the performance of any government. Next elections are not far off. They have the right to present alternate narratives and action plans which they think could change the fate of the country and then leave it to the people to give their verdict through the ballot. The madness of orchestrating political turmoil for the sake of grabbing power must be said adieu forever.