AT time of disclosure of Panama leaks, Sharif family faced four possible charges. These were corruption, falsehood, tax evasion and money laundering. Now it is also screaming under debris of collateral damage. New loads are perjury, forgery and tempering. It is far more backbreaking and suffocating because of its lethality by its implications. It is a tranquilizing dream for them. It never raced through their mind when mill of Panama leaks took start. Undoubtedly it has pieced them small.
It is not only Sharif family which is on the line rather ground under the feet of other high and mighty have also slipped. Now they stand on clay. They all are flabbergasted because Pakistan has been the land where they had the impunity. It was the land where money made a mere go. They could manage whatever come in their way. They could flaunt law in the name of adherence to law. Now they are being questioned and collared. It is a phenomena of new kind for which neither they have experience nor temperament to deal with.
Hand in gloves with their other partners, Sharif family used all tricks in their bag to hoodwink accountability but to no avail. Instead they had to have millstone around their neck. They started with voluntarily owning of assets whose ownership they could not explain despite use of all their stock in trade methods. They wanted an inquiry commission under self manufactured TORs to drag its process indefinitely and to no end. Its mention may refresh their intent and motive “commission to examine all Pakistani people of any type at home and abroad whether living, dead or missing for their alleged involvement ever in corruption, writing of bank loans, commissions, kickbacks and money laundering with a view to make recommendations how to force them to disgorge ill-gotten money and endure punitive consequences”. Instead they had to present themselves first in front of Supreme Court, lying flat on stretcher of accountability. Rigor of time was first head to roll ought to be top head because fish rotten from the head.
Concomitantly their political jugglery also worked nonstop around want of consensus on TORs between opposition and government, politics of resignation of PM and protest by opposition with many spanners at work within at their behest, conspiracy theories, selective accountability, right of due process, cases against Imran Khan and showcasing of mammoth development works. Much to their dismay and perplexity, all bit dust or will do so as the time passes. There is no mystery about how they reached to such impasse. It has the background but they failed to listen its hoof beats.
Though people continued to vote for PPP and PML-N for variety of reasons but thought of change also continued incubating in their minds. It was not confined to a particular segment of society. It was all pervasive and more in middle class and youth. Middle class is engine of change and youth its locomotion. Informal remarks of President Mamnoon Hussian albeit inadvertently, attests this fact vividly. His words were “corruption is root cause of Pakistan’s biggest problems. There is no need of corrupt people in the country. Issue of Panama leaks is God sent. It will expose many big names as time will pass. Corruption has adversely affected every institution of the country and now there is a need to launch collective efforts to eliminate this menace”. This speaks volume how worst is plight of the country. It is a universal fact when survival is so precariously placed, change increasingly becomes inevitable.
The role of media to spur thought of change cannot be overemphasized. It is making significant contributions to make our society an open society. Though most of the media is considered a bought media by cartel of power and loot and plunder. Even at times, it goes out of way to serve their interests yet by end of day, it leaves them in more arrears because of its inbuilt compulsions. As a whole media deserves special kudos for their role to bring sentiments of change thus far. In wake of movement for restoration of former Chief Justice and other Judges gave rise to judicial activism. Sacking of Yousaf Raza Gallani and escape of Raja Pervaiz Ashraf by just a wisker set the precedent to enforce rule of law in the country. Independent Judiciary always gives its own right kind of impetuous to thought of change and struggle.
The role of Imran Khan for change is monumental and unparalleled in history of Pakistan. He has become a formidable stumbling block in the way of our greedy and grasping ruling elite. He has pushed all forces of status quo in one distinct corner. He has unmasked them to an extent of easily identifiable. From day one, he picked fallen standard of justice and crusade against corruption in the country. Despite remaining in wilderness for long sixteen years, he did not relent. He fell many times but to rise again. He is the one who has brought Nawaz Sharif so close to his political obituary. At present, nation stands at crossroads. One goes to boom. Other goes to doom. Boom looks to be more certain proposition because of aforementioned drivers. Only condition is sacrifice instead of talk only.
— The writer, retired Lt Col, is freelance columnist based in Islamabad.