It is true that the Panama judgment had errors, and that the judiciary has had a dark past. However, using that past as a defense against present cases, and to delegitimise the role of judiciary is a condemnable move and the last resort of a desperate politician.
Nawaz Sharif has seen the review judgment by the Supreme Court (SC) of the Panama Case as an opportunity to continue his confrontational approach of berating the judiciary. The judgment has instigated a lot of reaction from PML-N leaders and has opened up the same old wound and tired arguments of Nawaz and Maryam, of delegitimising the judiciary and its history, without any relevance to the facts of the particular case. Instead of referring to the very valid allegations of corruption and assets beyond means, Nawaz’s tactic of attacking the judiciary for its history, and pitching parliament against the SC, does nothing for democracy or truth; and his emphasis on the legal loophole of Iqama serves to deflect light from the accountability cases pending upon him.
The incoming backlash from PPP and PTI to PML-N’s backlash to the review judgment is evidence that this is not a case of parliamentarians against judiciary. PTI chairman Imran Khan, through a statement on a social media website, lashed out at the ex-PM for his targeting the judges just for exposing corruption. PPP’s Zardari’s stance that Nawaz was exposing his anti-democratic agenda through his battle with the judiciary further makes Nawaz’s comparison of himself with Bhutto as a sacrificed hero for democracy, even more farcical.
Admittedly there are problems in the judgments. Asma Jahangir’s contentions of the judgment being heard under Article 184 (3) are valid, as we see the SC mirroring the same concerns in the disqualification case against Jehangir Tareen. As evidenced by the counter-petitions of PML-N, this allowance does leave dangerous precedent for politicians to abuse the legal system to file futile revenge petitions against rivals.
While raising concerns about the consequences of the judgment is perfectly valid, this does not allow Nawaz, who absolutely does not come with clean hands, to attack the Court. The issue with the Iqama is not at all comparable to the tragedy of the allowance of ‘doctrine of necessity’ by previous benches, and by conflating the two Nawaz is attempting to lead a public backlash and delegitmisation of the judiciary.
Instead of using the review to keep battering the dead issue of Iqama, Nawaz should focus preparing his party for the coming elections.