Imran-Tareen Verdict

On a day where the Supreme Court had already shifted the political landscape seismically by rejecting the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) appeal to reopen the Hudaibiya Paper Mills reference, it dropped another political bombshell by delivering a verdict in the Imran Khan-Jehangir Tareen disqualification petition. The mixed results for both sides of the political spectrum will invariably be disputed, dissected and debated for a considerable period of time to come, but a few indisputable facts need to be recognised.

Firstly, the Chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) Imran Khan remains legally untainted with financial impropriety – a fact that he was quick to point out, and thank the apex court for, in the post-verdict press conference. Secondly, we must also recognise that the same cannot be said for his party and its top leadership. Jehangir Tareen has been disqualified – for non-disclosure of assets – under the same “sadiq and ameen” maxim as Nawaz Sharif. As a result he must quit his seat in the parliament and cannot rejoin the political process for life.

Thirdly, while the verdict is certainly subject to appeal, albeit on a limited, technical and summary level, and Imran Khan has vowed to do so, the PTI cannot praise the Supreme Court and question its judgment at the same time –especially when they are talking about the same verdict. Imran Khan cannot cherry pick the parts of the judgment that go to his advantage while ignoring and disputing the rest. Either he respects the complete verdict or disputes the motives and capability of the judges – as Jehangir  Tareen has already done on social media – there is no middle ground.

The same also needs to be said to the other side of the spectrum; praise for the Hudabiya verdict is pouring in from the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) while the party continues to criticise the court for the Nawaz Sharif disqualification verdict.

It is interesting to note that Jehangir Tareen and PTI are using the same “mere technicality” argument that Nawaz Sharif had been infamously making regarding his disqualification; an argument that had been widely criticised by the party. Unfortunately, the irony of this escapes the PTI leadership.

Finally, the court has still not provided a credible and actionable definition of the “sadiq and amen” test – it remains very wide and open to interpretation. Both PTI and PML-N seem to agree on one thing; if the test is applied as rigorously to each member the parliament as it has been applied to them, many lawmakers would find themselves outside the corridors of power.


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