Nawaz Sharif’s second disqualification by the Supreme Court of Pakistan explains how parliamentarians have subverted the system to enable those who lack honesty, integrity, moral courage and transparency to rule the country through remote control. The remote was necessary to stringing parliamentarians to party discipline (read ‘dictations of its leader’). After Panama disqualification, the appendage of Elections Bill 2017 sailed through the Senate in suspicious circumstances enabling Nawaz Sharif to regain control of his party, despite being disqualified as prime minister. This slippage had a method and all senators of PTI and MQM who skipped or failed to sign the revision application did so by design and intent.
In essence, the PMLN led federal government had exploited an ambiguity in Article 17 of the Constitution of Pakistan over ‘Freedom of Association’. The logic was that if an individual has the fundamental right to form a political party, he is also eligible to lead it. Incidentally it was the same legal team that had crafted Political Parties Order 2002 under General Musharraf to plug a loophole and apply Articles 62-63 of the Constitution of Pakistan to office holders. Election Bill 2007 cleared the way for corrupt of all descriptions to occupy important positions in political parties.
But this exercise of surgical procedures by ruthless butchers and shameless courtier does not begin here. Few realise that Charter of Democracy, 18th Amendment, Elections Act 2007 and Election Bill 2007 are birds of feather; interconnected and complimentary to sustain a rule of the corrupt, by the corrupt, for the corrupt. The madness has a well-defined method that has caused huge damages to Pakistan in all spheres of policy and ethics.
The start point of such regression was ‘Charter of Democracy’. The platform towards this degeneration was provided in the 18th Amendment that passed many dictatorial powers to heads of political parties. The amendment moved Pakistan closer to a confederation as a result of which many development aspects of Pakistan including education lie in tatters.
Ethically and in concert with the ‘Rule of Law’, the ‘Elections Act 2017’ and ‘Elections Bill 2017’ appear opportune. But the devil lies in detail. On close scrutiny it is 18th Amendment that set the trend through a mix of lofty ideals and clever self-serving insertions. These enhanced the scope of politicians at the cost of fundamental rights of citizens; a carte blanch to abandon aspirations of the people for personal desires. With The Election Bill 2007, corrupt politicians even if declared guilty could call shots in favour of a system that protects and perpetuates corruption. The rush and hush, followed by adjournment of National Assembly suggest that the two main political parties are neither friends nor foes.
Condemning Elections Act 2007, Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, President of Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT) wrote, “Any effort to curtail the level of transparency will compromise the basic principles of democracy. Unfortunately, the deletion of these important declarations has done just that… such significant curtailment of transparency was allowed by the parliament even while almost all political parties were represented in the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms and its sub-committee through their ablest legislators”.
Some of the deletions included, loans, defaults, spouses and dependents, businesses, criminal offences, education, occupations, NTMs, taxes, code of conduct and dual nationality. The act provides loopholes to rich and corrupt to infest the political landscape of Pakistan. It is strange that Election Commission of Pakistan rather than challenge such amendments through its observations and Supreme Court decided to sleep. Justice Wajih’s criticism of the commission is justifiable and merits inquest.
But as three successive legislations pointed in this article manifest, the litany of amendments boils down to the supremacy of the corrupt to strip Pakistan of all its potential. Everything from state institutions to transparency and regulatory mechanisms was engineered to fail. While the armed forces resisted these forces due to its corporate traditions, it was a relentless campaign by Imran Khan that awoke a once highly politicised judiciary to awake from slumber.
Two themes that provided impetus to this slaughter were ‘politics as best revenge’ and ‘civilian supremacy’. As a consequence PPPP and PMLN have taken this revenge to destroy institutions and economy of the country. Both have also craftily used the slogan of civilian supremacy to cast shadows over the armed forces to appease USA that views the armed forces as the major hurdle to its objectives in the region. Nawaz Sharif also wants India and Afghanistan to feel happy. With the Supreme Court coming to fore, PMLN and its allied media is out ‘lock stock and barrel’ to prove a military-judiciary nexus. To them Imran Khan and Sheikh Rashid the two henchmen who kept the pyres burning are the fall guys and backdoor operators.
But this relentless dissection of the constitution and state had other equally lethal accomplices. The once vitriolic left steadily disappeared and was taken over by a pseudo liberal class. In hate and spite this cadre of, anchors, columnists, civil rights activists and NGOs justified all wrongs insofar as they demeaned the armed forces, judiciary and two fall guys. Every action of checks and balances was attributed to a deep state. Some very powerful media groups plus strong political business groups joined ranks to broadcast propaganda that built false perceptions and show Sharifs as ‘innocent victims of blind justice’. In this game of greed, money and political lust, these forces combine to opaque the obvious for monetary and political gratifications.
A case study to prove these assertions is the role played by PMLN and Chief Justice Iftiikhar Chaudary (Retired) in removal of Chairman SECP Muhammad Ali, Governor State Bank Yasin Anwar and Chairman NAB Admiral Fasih Bokhari (Retired). In case of Admiral Bokhari Mr. Shahid Hamid the architect of the three amendments had met Admiral Bokhari to drop the idea of reopening Hudaibya Paper Mill case. Once the Admiral refused, Justice Chaudary was requisitioned to fire the shots. The PPPP government in power did nothing to protect its nominee because they felt he had crossed a Rubicon that would ultimately haunt them. It also watched helplessly when Chairman of SECP and Governor State Bank left. JS and Jang Media Group played a major role in this case.
But the inevitable is bound to unfold. The writing is on the wall. Avenfield evidence provided by the three accused is sinking into a dungeon. Delaying tactics cannot convert a forgery into a fact. Once settled, the case will open breaches into other properties and offshore companies that also link to Hudaibya Papers Mills. If the NAB and Supreme Court persist, major actors of corruption in Pakistan will be steadily plugged out.
Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, the one man army who once set out to sort out this mafia is being vindicated. The institution that abandoned him is now redeeming him.
The writer is a political economistand a television anchor person.