Reportedly, the former Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has filed a defamation suit of Rs.20 billion against PTI Chief Imran Khan for alleging his involvement in the rigging of the 2013 election. The former CJ also asked the session judge to allow him to become a party to the proposed judicial commission demanded by PTI to probe rigging. Accordingly, the Sessions Judge Islamabad has sent a notice to Imran Khan to submit his reply by 20th January. This is a very significant development which might pave the way for the unraveling of the rigging rigmarole to find out whether the 2013 elections were rigged through a conspiracy as repeatedly claimed by Imran Khan, or not.

For the last five months, Imran Khan has been crying hoarse from every convenient rooftop about a conspiracy to steal the mandate from PTI and has with impunity indulged in shaming and denigrating individuals and state institutions by hurling unsubstantiated allegations at them. He also kept the nation hostage to his politics of violence, intolerance and lawlessness besides causing incalculable loss to the economy. Even last week, talking to media men at his Banigala residence, he forcefully claimed that former CJ and Justice Ramday were involved in the rigging in favour of PML(N). It is strange that the SC which has been intervening in everything under the skies using its suo moto jurisdiction never took notice of such an important national issue and the character assassination of the former honourable judges of the apex court.

True that Article 225 of the constitution debars any legal forum other than the Election Tribunals to deal with petitions regarding irregularities and rigging, but as per legal and constitutional experts, it does not preclude the possibility of the SC forming a judicial commission to find out whether systematic rigging was done through a conspiracy in which all the institutions and individuals named by Imran Khan were involved, or not. The government has already sent a request to the SC without any positive response so far.

The matter is too serious to be left unresolved because it could create chaos and anarchy in the country if Imran Khan re-launches his street agitation as being threatened by him in case the government does not form the Judicial Commission within the next seven days. My considered view is that the SC must take the initiative to form the Judicial Commission to probe into the conspiracy theory, irrespective of the fact that the two parties agree on the terms of reference or not. The nation wants an end to the crass politics and focus on the fight against terrorism as its topmost priority. The Prime Minister and the COAS have repeatedly vowed to take the fight against terrorism to its logical end at any cost and that resolve enjoys the full backing of the nation.

Under prevailing circumstances, the best course of action for Imran would be to abandon his politics of agitation and wait for the decisions of the Election Tribunal. He should realize the gravity of the situation. The nation is not in the mood to tolerate any politicking and Imran must have had a fair idea of it when he visited Army Public School Peshawar. Before entering the school, he had to wade through a crowd of parents of the deceased children who were furious over the apathy shown by the provincial government of PTI ever since the incident occurred as well as Imran’s insensitivity to their feelings by having married before the passing of the 40 day mourning period. Most of them viewed the visit as an exercise in ‘politicking’ rather than genuine concern and sympathy for the martyred children and their parents. He was also greeted with vociferous slogans of ‘Go Imran Go,’ a slogan he and his followers have been using to disrupt the gatherings of the PML(N) dignitaries and against the Prime Minister at different forums; kind of a taste of his own medicine quintessential of the proverbial retribution.

The way the protesting parents were handled by the police and reportedly even abused by Chief Minister KPK, Pervez Khatak, was simply outrageous and shameful to say the least. The episode exploded the myth of the PTI being a democracy loving entity. Instead of showing respect and appreciation for the sentiments of the parents of the deceased children and allowing them to go through the process of ‘catharsis’ they were treated with violence. The information minister of KPK even rubbed salt in the wounds by claiming that the demonstration was politically motivated and the government would not allow politics of ‘vandalism’ in the province.

With regards to the attack on the APS, the contention of Imran and the provincial government that the school was being run by the Army and therefore the responsibility of the attack could not be put on the provincial government, was also contrary to the facts and a clumsy attempt to cover up laxity on its part. Providing security to the institutions and maintaining law and order is the prime duty of the civil administration and in view of the fact that there was intelligence about possible attacks on the schools, the provincial government was under obligation to arrange necessary security to educational institutions, indicated as possible targets of the terrorists. The argument that terrorist attacks can happen even where the security is of the highest level, like GHQ and other military installations, cannot be contested. But not providing security at all is criminal negligence. This lapse on the part of the provincial government was probably attributable to the long absence of the Chief Minister from the provincial capital in connection with the sit-in and the public rallies held by PTI in different cities of the country which were enthusiastically participated in by him, neglecting his responsibilities in the province.

Imran, therefore, needs to revisit his strategy and outlook, focus more on KPK as rightly announced by him and return to the parliament to nudge the changes he perceives are necessary in the system of elections and governance. There is no other possible way to achieve those objectives in a democratic and constitutional set-up. The days for bringing change through extra-constitutional means are over.