The Panama case judgment may have been finally announced by the Supreme Court but the matter is far from over. There is immediate legal fallout for those who have been accused which, in this case, includes the sitting prime minister of the country and then there is a broader political fallout.
The fact that it’s a split decision does not only indicate that the members of the bench are divided on holding Mian Nawaz Sharif and his family accountable but also in their own perception of the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and their interpretation of the country’s Constitution.
A split decision, it is being said, is going to split the society even further. But as all eyes are set on the findings of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) as proposed by the Supreme Court, the political ramifications of the judgment are clearly seen as the major opposition parties persist with their demand of the prime minister’s resignation. Actually, both the options put before the prime minister entail his ouster — one, he should resign and appoint another person as the PM before facing the JIT; two, he should dissolve the assemblies and call fresh elections.
What the politicos don’t realise is that the judgment has opened a Pandora’s Box which will be too difficult to close. It has exposed the virtual absence of a sound accountability mechanism which is impartial and commands everybody’s confidence. The lack of confidence in civilian institutions — especially NAB and FIA — compelled the Supreme Court to include military’s intelligence agencies in the JIT. This composition of the JIT is now being questioned by all saner elements and rightly so.
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Corruption of the political class can no more be brushed under the carpet. One hopes the case and its verdict will bring greater transparency into the processes and improve the state of democracy in this country. The media too must desist from sensationalising and commenting upon the sub judice cases.