True that democracy has not been able to find its roots in Pakistan due to the shenanigans of the military dictators but it is also true that our political parties and political leaders were equally guilty of shattering the vision of the founding father. During the civilian rule that interspersed the martial laws they hardly made any earnest attempt to change the archaic and exploitative colonial system of governance and they remained steeped in politics of self aggrandisement. They have been insulting the mandate of the people by indulging in conspiracies in connivance with the anti-democratic forces against the elected governments with the sole aim of bringing them down, instead of focusing on reforming the system through their collective wisdom and delivering to the masses. Regrettably they failed to learn from the disastrous consequences that the country had to endure because of their indifference and lack of commitment to the legacy bequeathed by the Quaid.

Consequently the political landscape of the country has never been enviable. But during the last four years it has become even murkier than before. A culture of disdain and disrespect for state institutions, including the judiciary, has been added to the litany of unenviable pursuits of the politicians; an ominous development that could consign the country to unending anarchy and instability, which it can hardly afford in view of the egregious challenges confronting it. Unfortunately the polarised media is also responsible for encouraging these trends and aggravating the political divisions contrary to its defined pluralist character that makes it the fourth pillar of the state.

The political scenario unfolding in the backdrop of the Panama verdict is quintessential of the new culture of disrespect for the judiciary. The PPP has out rightly rejected the decision of formation of JIT and PTI which was a petitioner in the case and had repeatedly expressed its faith in the judiciary and vowed to honour its verdict has also wriggled out of its commitment and has expressed no-confidence in the JIT formed by the SC. Imran Khan has not done it for the first time. When the judicial commission was formed to probe the allegations of rigging, he gave a commitment that in case his allegations were nullified by the commission he would withdraw them and accept the verdict ungrudgingly. But when the report of the Commission was made public repudiating his rigging allegations, he took a somersault and said that the commission had not done its job properly. Thereafter he has been repeating rigging allegations from all the convenient forums which undoubtedly was reflective of his disrespect for the judiciary.

The PTI and PPP are now out on the anti-government campaign with an avowed objective to force the Prime Minister to resign. They are not only gunning for the Prime Minister but also competing with each other for the political space forgetting all norms of decency and political morality. It presents a spectacle of mud-slinging and character assassination of each other’s leadership. But in their mutual duel they are not forgetting their common cause to intensify smear campaign against the Prime Minister and his family members including her daughter Maryam Naweaz, invoking similar response from the PML-N leaders. They are so blinded by their hatred of the Sharifs that they are not even hesitating to give a parochial twist to their convulsions. Asif Zardari addressing public rallies in KPK said “I will tear ‘Show-baz’s’ belly to recover Pakhtun’s money”. The rumpus in the National Assembly and the provincial Assemblies of KPK Sind and AJK are all indications of moral and political bankruptcy of the opposition parties.

Their entire campaign is based on a wrong premise and a false interpretation of the verdict in the Panama case. The PTI is particularly hammering the dissenting notes by the two judges to claim that the Prime Minister had been disqualified and hence had lost the moral ground to continue as the Chief Executive of the country. Using the same logic it has rejected the JIT claiming that with the Prime Minister in the chair it would not be able to work impartially. The hullaballoo raised by the PTI and the opposition on the dissenting notes even forced the CJ to tell Imran Khan that dissenting notes were a usual phenomenon all over the world and nowhere so much noise was raised as was being done in Pakistan. In other words he mildly snubbed those who were trying to read too much between the lines and giving wrong interpretation to the SC decision. The PML-N and the Prime Minister deserve a pat on their back for accepting the verdict of the court and promising full cooperation with the JIT.

The fact of the matter is that dissenting notes have no legal implications as far as the legal decisions are concerned. The majority verdict is taken as the verdict of the entire bench. The verdict of the bench was that the Prime Minister could not be disqualified as prayed by the petitioners on the basis of the evidences presented before the court and it needed further investigation as per the law of evidence and statues relevant to dispensation of justice. It clearly implied that even the accusers had failed to prove their case on the basis of the evidence that they presented before the court.

The Panama case is not yet finished legally. The mater is sub-judice so giving wrong interpretations to the interim decision constitutes a deliberate attempt to drag the state institutions into politics. Such conduct in the eyes of legal experts also descends into the realm of contempt of court as it represents an affront to the judiciary. The better and desirable course for the political parties would have been to wait for the final verdict in the case.

In democratic dispensation opposition is regarded as a government in waiting. The government and the opposition have complimentary roles wedded to the cause of strengthening state institutions, democracy and promoting the well being of the masses. In performing their respective roles they are entitled to differ on policy issues and propagate their own perspective. But they must remember that the people who give them the franchise to rule the country or perform the role of an opposition are the final arbiters. It is only their privilege and prerogative to change the governments through ballot. Any other method or ploy used to destabilize an elected government was a negation of the democratic norms and insult to the mandate and genius of the people.

The PML-N government has been mandated to run the affairs of the country for five years and it has the right to complete its tenure without any disruption. Our politicians must learn to respect the democratic norms to establish their democratic credentials as well as show unqualified respect to the judiciary. For the resolution of the national issues and disputes they must put their faith in it and the real political sovereigns as per the constitution i.e. the people.