KARACHI - The Panama Leaks scandal rocked the political landscape of Pakistan one year and 16 days back while most of the people heaved a sigh of relief when the Supreme Court announced its verdict on the case of disqualification of the prime minister; many people in Karachi, however, doubted it was all over.

Things might look fine as they are today, but the real test would be the final verdict of the Supreme Court that is expected to come after nine weeks. The Nation talked to a number of people from different walks of life to get an insight into their feelings about the verdict. On the whole, people in this port city appeared to show less interest in the situation emerging, but many were concerned mainly about the law and order situation and stability of the country. Their more concern was deployment of the Rangers, which, according to them, had brought stability in what was once described as the most volatile city of Pakistan.

Arif Yousaf, 57-year-old former vice chairman of All Builders and Developers Association of Pakistan, was of the view that the real verdict was yet awaited by the people. “The case is going to be investigated. In a way, the apex court has thrown the ball into the prime minister’s court. He will have to decide himself how to provide all the details of money trail. I believe the verdict is wise, considering there could have been law and order situation and political instability, which was not good for the country. We hope the development and progress of the country will not be affected with the final decision,” Arif said.

Afifa J Maniar, CEO of The Dragon 360 Company, was critical of the judgment. “I think even after so-called historic verdict, the case is still unresolved. However, with the judges voting to disqualify the PM, the three ordering more investigation and the formation of the JIT, the Panama case will either divert public attention from other issues or it will give time to the PM to serve till the 2018 elections,” Afifa was of the view.

30-year-old Mukhtiar Ali, who runs Uber cab service, was disappointed over the decision. “It is the land where the rich and powerful can get away with anything. The verdict does not concern the common man. It was a political case and democracy has brought nothing to people but pain. Whether Nawaz Sharif stays as PM or is disqualified, we are not concerned. Our fate is not going to change,” Mukhtiar said with dismay on his face.

Many people are fed up with the political battles that have been going on since the 2013 election. They want it all to end so that rulers may concentrate on development projects for the welfare of people. 38-year-old Christian priest Eric Bashir praised the two judges who gave note of dissent. “It is not important who won. What is important is that there is still ray of hope for justice in our judicial system. We have to keep in mind Pakistan’s image internationally as well. The verdict gave another chance to the prime minister to defend himself and to prove that he is innocent. If he is not, he should withdraw from politics very gracefully. His stature would grow in the eyes of people and his party too would be saved, otherwise they will have to face the chances of becoming just another small party,” Eric explained.

Muhammad Afzal, a 56-year-old businessman who deals in flexes and T-shirts, was frustrated with the whole situation.

“The whole nation is disturbed by the continuous wastage of time. So much money is being spent on media campaigns. Politicians are trying to malign each other in the hope of winning the election. What are we telling the world, how corrupt are we and how can we easily get away with it?” Afzal questioned.

The young people are concerned about the situation emerging after the verdict. 20-year-old Nigarish Chishty, a student of Iqra University and joint secretary of The Icon Pakistan, says it is not all over. “As formation of JIT means judges were not satisfied with the defence of Nawaz Sharif, so they want further investigation. Thus no one said Nawaz Sharif was innocent.”

“Until JIT report is submitted, Nawaz Sharif’s innocence will remain in a doubt,” Nigarish said.

K-Electric Deputy GM Zafar Ullah was of the view that accountability is only for the poor people. “Nawaz Sharif has lost moral ground to hold the office of prime minister. The three judges were not satisfied with his defence and this is shy they gave him more time to furnish evidence. Accountability of other politicians should also be started,” he said.

Former PML-N Women Wing General Secretary Perveen Bashir was beaming with pride. “I have just come back from the press club where we distributed sweets. The decision is a revenge on those who considered themselves superior and masterminds. The party will now gear up to face challenges in Sindh,” Perveen asserted.

The mixed reaction of people shows the polarisation in the Pakistan society is widening, which is not good for the stability and prosperity of the country. It is high time for everyone to play his part in ensuring harmony and peace.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 21-Apr-2017 here.