Malik M Ashraf
Panama Leaks judgement announced by the Supreme Court last week has provided Imran Khan with yet another opportunity to campaign against the ruling party while accusing the Prime Minister and his family of having invested their ill-gotten money in the off-shore companies and buying flats in London. Consequently he again started political agitation against the government demanding resignation of the Prime Minister and formation of a judicial commission to look into the alleged corruption by the Prime Minister. The government and the Prime Minister again agreed for a probe.
The Prime Minister is on record to have suggested the formation of the JIT and later also wrote to the Supreme Court for the constitution of the Judicial Commission but the then CJ wrote back to the government that the existing law regarding formation of Commissions was not adequate enough to conduct a probe into the issue at hand and it needed a new legislation for the SC to form such a commission. That legislation could not materialise due to non-cooperative attitude of PTI which again took to the streets to pressurise the Prime Minister to resign. Imran Khan gave a call for locking down Islamabad on November 2, 2016. The preceding five days had heightened tensions between the PTI and the government.
However before the things got out of control the SC intervened one day before the proposed lock down and indicated the formation of a commission to investigate the case asking both the parties to present agreed TORs for the proposed commission, Both parties agreed to the formation of the Commission. In the meantime PTI, JI, Sheikh Rashid and advocate Asad Tariq filed petitions for a probe into panama-gate seeking disqualification of the Prime Minister and five other respondents A five member bench headed by former CJ Anwar Zaheer Jamali heard the case and after his retirement the bench had to be reconstituted. The reconstituted bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa heard the case on daily basis and on February 23 the judgment was reserved which was finally announced on April 20.
It is pertinent to mention that both the parties had reposed full confidence in the bench and vowed to accept whatever verdict was announced in letter and in spirit. The verdict announced by the bench has not granted the prayers of the petitioners regarding disqualification of the Prime Minister and with a majority decision which is regarded as a collective decision of the bench thought it appropriate to form a JIT to seek answers to the questions raised by the SC to be able to give a final verdict in the case after meeting all the requirements of the law of evidence and other laws in vogue in the country.
While the ruling party and the Prime Minister have accepted the verdict of the SC notwithstanding some reservation and promised to fully cooperate with the JIT, Imran Khan as usual has backed off from his commitment to accept the verdict ungrudgingly and without waiting for the final outcome of the case, has again started political agitation to pressurize the Prime Minister to resign claiming that in his presence the JIT would not be able to accomplish its task impartially. This behaviour is yet another example of his disrespect for the apex court and some legal expert even take it as a contempt of the court.
The matter is still subjudice therefore the political agitation launched by Imran is not justified at all. The PPP which was not a party to the legal proceedings of the Panama case has also out rightly rejected the formation of JIT and announced taking to streets to secure the resignation of the PM. The position taken by PPP is also not tenable. These parties must wait for the final outcome of case. Settling political issues on streets and showing disrespect to judiciary can have very serious repercussion for country.
— The writer is freelance columnist based in Islamabad.