It has been a good year for law and order constitutional bodies, and certain political entities would do well by taking the hint. The recent arrest warrants and subsequent suspension of them by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) serves a good lesson to players that it is those who play by the rules who win.
This was demonstrated by the divergence of fates of Imran Khan and Ishaq Darr. A larger bench of the Islamabad High Court Wednesday suspended the bailable arrest warrants issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chief Imran Khan in a contempt case. At the same time, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Wednesday seized the bank accounts and properties of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar as an accountability court initiated proceedings against him in a corruption reference.
While Nawaz loyalists will automatically call bias by these two judicial decisions, the details of the cases provide a welcoming approach to adherence to law taken by the courts. ECP’s issuing of bailable arrests for Imran was the absolute right move as the PTI chief was refusing to appear before the commission. The order reminded him that no one was above the law. It seems that the lesson registered with Imran Khan as he then took the legal way through the Islamabad High Court to have those arrest warrants suspended.
In contrast, it seems that Ishaq Dar and the Sharif family are attempting to play chicken with the law. The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was expecting the former Prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, and his sons, Hassan and Hussain to file their replies today pertaining to the NAB reference against them. The Sharif family as per advice from their counsel has paid no heed to the NAB reference. Ishaq Dar, the finance minister, is following the same protocol. These “no show” tactics lead NAB to freeze their assets and an accountability court issued warrants for Ishaq Darr’s arrest.
The difference in the results of their different strategies is clear. While Imran, who decided to submit all records and comply with ECP despite contesting its jurisdiction had the arrest warrants suspended, Nawaz and Ishaq, who are in London and refusing to appear for NAB have had their assets frozen.
It is a dangerous game that Nawaz and Dar are playing and one they are not likely to win. The actions taken by the courts will only escalate from here. Nawaz would do well to follow Imran’s example of complying with the law or suffer the same fate as Dar.