Above all, the credit for holding a sitting prime minister to account goes to the five honourable judges of the Supreme Court , the six JIT members and the Chief Justice of Pakistan. Imran Khan’s PTI deserves the credit for agitating the matter and forcing the court to attend to it with the urgency it deserved. Pakistan’s independent media deserves credit for keeping the public informed about daily developments in the Panama case. It’s a bit unfair to give a hidden hand the whole credit.

Yet, some would like to insist that Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification was engineered by the security establishment and those directly responsible for showing him the door were only doing the bidding of men-in-khaki. That the five supreme court judges who unanimously disqualified him, the six JIT members who came up with incriminating evidence against him, and Imran Khan who led the demand for his accountability, were all merely puppets. They offer nothing credible to prove their assertions.

Instead, a concoction of rumours and selective reading of our political history is provided as evidence. Loaded and inaccurate interpretation of events is administered in heavy doses. And this is considered enough to prove the conspiracy of a ‘rogue establishment’ using a ‘subservient judiciary’ and a ‘collaborating opposition’ to oust an ‘elected government’. Yes, this has happened before. But that’s not enough reason to claim that this is what happened this time as well.

Pakistan has moved on in so many ways. Thanks to the Rule of Law movement, the Supreme Court has emerged as an independent institution of the state which has shown the confidence to decide matters before it without fear or favour. There is a debate about its judicial activism and suo moto jurisdiction, about the accountability and appointment of judges, but everyone agrees that the Supreme Court is no longer subservient to either the executive or the security establishment.

Aitazaz Ahsan, who led the Rule of Law movement for a year, saw the mass mobilisation for the restoration of judges sacked by General Musharaf as a leap of public consciousness. He was right. This leap has raised Pakistanis from the status of serfs to citizens; citizens who expect to be ruled by the law of the land rather than the feudal whims of those in power, citizens who expect their courts to treat everyone equally, and to hold the powerful to account.

This is what the Supreme Court has done in the case of Nawaz Sharif. Anyone who followed the proceedings of the case could see that justice was done. No yarns of legal technicalities could obfuscate the glaring facts. Nawaz Sharif and his family failed to justify their wealth and provide the missing money trails before the five honourable judges, before the JIT and, after the JIT submitted its final report, before the three honourable judges who had ordered the investigation.

That was not all. They were found concealing assets, forging documents, and lying not only to the public and the parliament but also to the court. Official documents were tampered to benefit them, something for which the SECP Chairman has been sacked and sent to jail on remand. The NAB Chairman protected their corruption for which he was admonished by the bench. So what were the honourable judges supposed to do? Abdicate their constitutional duty and save the skin of Nawaz Sharif like loyal personal servants, like the NAB and SECP chairmen?

I guess that’s what Nawaz Sharif’s local and international sympathisers expect, those painting him as democracy’s new hero and the victim of a military-backed judicial coup. I guess they expected the military leadership to intervene on his behalf instead of its open declaration that it would stand by the Constitution. I guess they expected Imran Khan not to play his democratic role as an opposition leader and behave like the friendly opposition that Zardari’s PPP has been all these years.

I guess they expected the JIT not to investigate the prime minister as ordered by the Supreme Court but to treat him as royalty, just like the swarms of public officials who surrounded him like lowly courtiers did. They don’t like the fact that the Supreme Court included officials from the MI and the ISI in the JIT, although this has been done on numerous occasions. They’d like us to believe that two Brigadiers in the JIT hijacked the investigation and dictated the order to the honourable judges.

Even if we believe them, that the thorough investigation was the work of the security establishment, what do we do with the damning facts, the serious crimes and the many misdemeanours? But these Nawaz-cum-democracy supporters have nothing to say about all that. They dish out rumours and selective history. The bubble of flawed democratic theory is presented as a solid fact. Distorted notions about civilian supremacy and electoral mandate are used as frills to decorate the democracy-propaganda. As far as they are concerned, this is enough to prove their conspiracy.

You can’t have a sane discussion with the Nawaz-cum-democracy supporters these days. You either agree with them or you are a part of the conspiracy against democracy, an agent of the security establishment or their bootlicker. They say they are strengthening democracy but they are only crippling it. Justifying whatever the elected leaders do in the garb of saving democracy would only turn them into spoilt brats. Rather than giving them the license of committing crimes because they are elected, we should raise our expectations from them.

Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification signifies the deepening of democratic values within our state institutions, all of them except the parliament. That’s our democracy’s weakest link. We have seen the so-called democratic governments make the parliament redundant. We saw Asif Zardari running the government from the Presidency. We saw Nawaz Sharif bypass the august houses.

What good is a parliamentary democracy without a working parliament and democracy within political parties? What good is a democracy without rule of law and transparency of government affairs? What good is a democracy without accountability and an independent judiciary?

The writer is a freelance columnist.

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