All things rotten, all things bleak

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Hail a judgment that purports to say it all while divulging little

 

Catchy, interesting, piercing, subtle and quotable lines can say what one desires to utter but couldn’t otherwise. And it seems that a Lordship in the Big Marble Palace knows this mantra well

 

 

‘Something is rotten in the state of Denmark,’ says a character in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. The line by great Bard sets the stage for one of the most intriguing, most thought provoking, most nuanced dramas of all time. Many of you would love to ‘localise’ the line by replacing Denmark with Pakistan. Well, do so at your own peril, dearest sir’s and ma’ams.

I apologise for following the footsteps of Honourable Justice Khosa, who in his quest to grab attention of every man jack started his Panama judgment with a quote from The Godfather attributed to Honore De Balzac, ‘Behind every great fortune there is a crime’. The line made utter sense and paved way for all his Lordship had to say.

Catchy, interesting, piercing, subtle and quotable lines can say what one desires to utter but couldn’t otherwise. And it seems that a Lordship in the Big Marble Palace knows this mantra well.

Enough of gratuitous talk peppered with literary gems for dramatic effect. Let us dive deeper into what has become the talk of the town i.e. Panama Paper verdict.

PM remains PM. No matter how you translate the judgment, no matter how ferociously you indulge in pettifogging and hair splitting, Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif stands tall and sits comfortably. The judgment didn’t send him home.

Now, let us start from the beginning. The Justice Khosa-led the 5-member Bench commenced hearings from 4 January 2017 till 23 February 2017. Parties on both side of the aisle fought it like an existential battle of life and death.

A plethora of documents was submitted, intriguing arguments were given, scathy remarks were made by their Lordships, vitriolic media talks were held, rallies were conducted, and hopes and aspirations were made to masquerade as truth and nothing but the truth. The hearing concluded as wait ensued.

After more than a month and a half, came the verdict.

And what was the verdict? Formation of a Joint Investigation Team to probe the allegations further. The wild fantasies of expectant crowd who wanted to oust Nawaz Sharif dashed to the ground, however, the much awaited clean chit was also nowhere in sight.

3-2 came the decision. 3-2 remains the decision. 3-2 forms the majority. 3-2 saves the king, 3-2 we languish in limbo.

Now, that the cat named Panama verdict is out. The fiery speculations, the tall tales, the fictitious stories have withered away. Their Lordships have decided that in order to condemn a person they need something more concrete than newspaper clippings, something more reliable than interviews given to anchors, and something more incriminating than wishes of some individual hell bent on grabbing power through fair or foul means (read Khan Ji).

Now, let us look at the answer the judgment provides for the question of the prime minister’s speeches. The majority judgment authored by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan clearly says that once the judges have held that neither of the speeches of Nawaz Sharif could be used against him, the question of availability of privilege under Article 66 becomes irrelevant.

Let me quote the whole excerpt from the judgment, so that the intent of their Lordships can be pronounced more exactly, ‘We cannot make a hotchpotch of the Constitution and the law by reading Sections 9 and 15 of the NAB Ordinance in Articles 62, 63 and Section 99 of the Representation of People’s Act and pass a judgment in a proceeding under Article 184 (3) which could well be passed by an accountability court after full-fledged trial’.

The whole Bench, including the dissenting judges, has given a pure, white clean chit to Maryam Nawaz. The judgment declares that she is neither her father’s dependent nor had anything whatsoever to do with the London flats

 

Furthermore, the verdict makes the intent of judges crystal clear when they say that they don’t feel inclined to arrogate to themselves a power or exercise a jurisdiction which has not been conferred on them by any of the acts of the Parliament or even by Article 184 (3).

Waiting for the punchline, ehh? It comes thus, ‘Who does not know that making of a statement on oath in a trial lends it an element of solemnity; cross examination provides safeguards against insinuation of falsehood in the testimony; provisions of Qanoon-e-Shahadat Order regulate relevancy of facts, admissibility of evidence and mode of proof through oral and documentary evidence and thus ensure due process of law. We for an individual case would not dispense with due process and thereby undo, obliterate and annihilate our jurisprudence which we built up in centuries in our sweat, in our toil, in our blood’.

‘We see the world not as it is, but as we are,’ says an ancient Jewish proverb. IK and his gang of brothers and sisters have read in the judgment what they wanted to be in the judgment. The past shenanigans of Kaptaan coupled with antics after judgment reminds one of a Biblical truth; none so blind as those who refuse to see. There we go again, dearest sirs and ma’ams. Quoting the quotable lines from heavenly and earthly literature.

And before concluding I would like to pin point your attention to the actual judgment. So hold your horses for a second.

The whole Bench, including the dissenting judges, has given a pure, white clean chit to Maryam Nawaz. The judgment declares that she is neither her father’s dependent nor had anything whatsoever to do with the London flats.

In your face, Khan Ji. Go ahead and figure this one out. First you have rallied to dethrone the father. The father is still there. And now the heir apparent Maryam Nawaz is all set sans taint, sans blemish to initiate her political career.

Moral of the story? Well there isn’t any right now. As the story is far from over, the play hasn’t concluded, the second half is yet to begin and the curtain hasn’t fallen.

Let us end on a creative note, with apologies to both Balzac and Puzo, ‘Behind every great desperation there is an inferiority complex’.