The Panamagate scandal, and the movement to have the Prime Minister disqualified that was born out of it, are surely matters of public importance that deserves the highest standards of media attention. So far that has demonstrably been the case, the government has not tried to censor any report and opinion on the matter, and as a result, media organisations have made the covering of the Panamagate scandal a prime feature of their news cycles. This free and open access to information is always appreciable, but there are certain drawbacks to having an intense light shone on a singular matter – the bigger picture is left in the shadows and the subject under inspection takes on a disproportionate hue.

This is especially becoming a problem with the reporting on the Supreme Court hearings, and how these hearings are received by the media, the politicians, and the public at large. The details of the court proceedings – from who attended, what arguments were presented, which were accepted by the judges and which denied, which public figure was summoned and what the judges remarked – are all being reported on a daily basis by the media. Unfortunately, these proceedings have become a microcosm in itself, which are needlessly and mercilessly dissected to form conclusions based on the flimsiest of assumptions.

While evidence based speculation is the job of the media and the right of everybody involved, the proceedings themselves should achieve the importance of a court judgement by the public – which must be pointed out, has still not been delivered by the courts. Political parties need to be reminded that the comments made by the judges during their hearings of the case are not judgements themselves. If the court berates a consul for weak argumentation or observes that some specific benchmarks need to be fulfilled does not mean that the court is supporting one party’s claim or the others. Yet political parties and the media to an extent cherry pick comments and bandy them about as a victory or defeat.

In the inquisitorial judicial system that Pakistan employs – which involves the judges taking an active part in the hearing of the case by summoning different reports on their discretion and directing the consul towards certain subjects. The judges will talk, a lot, but none of this is the official judgement. Only the words used in the official judgement, and the comments made when delivering the judgment have any legal bearing.