The Supreme Court judgment came, leaving behind a league of consequences and possibilities. Debates about the legalities aside, it is important to analyse the implications that this judgment will have in the field of politics today.
While the judgment can be construed as cutting across several political parties, since it targets Jehangir Tareen too, the biggest stakeholder is Nawaz Sharif. Debates are rife on whether this judgment serves as the final nail in the coffin of Nawaz’s political career.
The view taken is that this may be the end of Nawaz’s prime minister-ship, but does not spell the end of his political career. With the largest political party in his hands, and the biggest leaders in politics being his family, Nawaz is certainly one of the most influential figures and will remain so. To a cynical view, this judgment should serve as a lesson to Nawaz, to give up his reigns, and turn his attention to Maryam’s political career.
However, if you look at the Sharif family, their confidence in Nawaz’s political career has not wavered. Maryam Nawaz has assured party workers that the ‘permanent disqualification’ will last till those dispensing justice remain at their posts. A picture being circulated by the PML-N shows Nawaz being disqualified for life in 2002, reinforcing the view that this disqualification too is only temporary.
Nawaz is right to have some hope. He may have exhausted almost all legal remedies that go in his favour, but Nawaz’s recourse lies in the hands of the parliament, not with the judiciary. If PML-N wins a considerable majority in the National Assembly elections, a constitutional amendment removing Article 62 (1) (f) may rectify his grievances.
This is not a guaranteed solution. Even with a sweep in the general elections, amending the constitution requires a two-third majority. Whether Nawaz will have the numbers, or if PML-N can convince the PPP to vote in their favour, is a difficult thing to predict. Moreover, PML-N will have to certify that the amendment will have retrospective effect, something the Court may find in itself to strike down.
The real issue that Nawaz needs to focus on though now is not his revival, but continued support of his party. Without a strong PML-N backing him up, Nawaz has no hopes of amending the constitution or of gaining power through the next elections. Already there are reports of discontent and defections within the party and this judgement will only make matters worse.