According to the age old saying, “justice delayed is justice denied”. Accused driven delays lead to decay of the society. There can be no escape from law. For dodging justice there are laid down legal penalties. Mian Nawaz Sharif and his family are better off in presenting their defence, escapism shows guilt which will hurt them politically. By definition an advocate provides advocacy to the court enabling it to reach a verdict in the shortest possible time. Unfortunately delay has become a weapon of denying justice by the black coats themselves.

My father was a habitual litigant. He never lost a case in his life due to his principles and perseverance. According to him legal battle was a game of stamina and steadfastness. He prepared his own cases, personally guided his legal team and was always prepared to fight to the end. In his case most delays came from the prosecution while he kept the cases moving. Finally when his time was over, he left behind two dozen cases unresolved. I took over his mantle and decided to focus on the major ones which were decided three to four years after his death.

Our legal system suffers from serious delays. After the lawyers movement of 2007 it was hoped that the restored judiciary would look inwards to resolve the looming issues, instead the Chief Justice of Pakistan started to encroach on executive authority. After him the situation has improved much but the mess left by him has to be cleaned up. As an important pillar of state the judiciary must play its role in expeditious dispensation of justice.

Sane voices within PML-N are now asking the party leadership to co-operate with the courts in reaching decisions based on justice instead of evasion or vandalism as has been the norm. The seasoned and savvy Co-chairman of PPP has also advised the Sharif family to fight their legal battles within the ambit of law. However, it seems Mian Sahib has decided on a policy of confrontation and delay.

Political parties that are devoid of ideology cannot fight street battles. As a party PML-N has always used the state apparatus to its advantage, now if it decides to overpower the same cohesive apparatus it will be an uphill task. October 13, 1999 must be etched in their mind as July 05, 1977 is in People’s Party. The only difference being that while Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) decided to confront the establishment. The elder Sharif was able to save his son’s life by agreeing to go into self-exile by signing an agreement brokered by our Saudi friends. As part of this deal the accountability cases were not pursued by the government.

PML-N has a dismal track record when it comes to rule of law. In 1997 Justice Sajjad Ali Shah had the courage to take on corruption cases against Mian Sahib. Riding on his mandate the party decided to attack the court. Justices had to run for their life. The Khakis under General Jehangir Karamat did not side with the rule of law, instead they invoked bureaucratic loopholes. Supreme Court was asked to approach the Ministry of Defence which came under the Prime Minister. First it was the Chief Justice who had to resign and then the General also had to go home.

A lot of water has flown under the bridge between 1997 and 2017. Lessons have been learnt by the establishment. Unfortunately Mian Sahib is still caught in time. Supreme Court is now independent and protected. Rule of law has to prevail. People’s verdict is important only if it is supported by a credible ballot and the masses are solidly behind their leader. PML-N never had such public following; it has always been a party of interests.

When ZAB was cornered and removed he had surrounded himself with opportunists and political bounty hunters. Shahbaz Sharif calls them the “new advisors” to the PM. When the crunch time came ZAB was abandoned by his own cabinet ministers while the comrades had been rendered ineffective within the party. There was no one to fight the street battles to save the life of Quaid-e-Awam as he had lost contact with them.

Rule of law is in everyone’s interest. Legal battles can bring us out of this mess created by the last two khaki dictators. As comrades of change we have fought several battles for the country, its constitution and rule of law. Nawaz Sharif must not fall on the wrong side of history. Pakistan is destined for change through democracy. Masses are on the side of law. Learn the right lessons and provide advocacy for an amicable and expeditious settlement for the country to move forward. Confrontation will not help; present your defence for your exoneration or an honourable exit.