The mean machine

November 26, 2021

The fact that a video or some other controversial material would be released and agitated prior to whenever a hearing is scheduled in cases concerning Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Safdar has assumed...

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The fact that a video or some other controversial material would be released and agitated prior to whenever a hearing is scheduled in cases concerning Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Safdar has assumed comical proportions. This would be inevitably followed by a plea to defer the hearing by citing one brainless reason or the other.

The entire exercise has been repeated ad nauseam to delay the prospect of an adversarial injunction in their cases as also to create an impression that they have been wronged. This is despite the fact that, in almost five years, the entire family including convict-absconder Nawaz Sharif and his convicted daughter, out temporarily on suspended sentence, has failed to answer one simple question: what are the legitimate sources of income for purchasing businesses and properties worth billions in foreign lands? In the meanwhile, Maryam and her cohorts are malevolently busy in cutting and pasting bits to produce and market their fake and fabricated stories. Worse still, our system is absorbing it without even a shade of protest or remedy. All their requests are ceded as if they were still the potentates dictating both the substance and direction of events.

As part of the larger Machiavellian plan to bring disrepute to the key state institutions and individuals and render them controversial, the two-day Asma Jehangir conference, co-hosted by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), was turned into a lowly street agitation. The judges in general, and those present at the function including the CJP and chief justices of the Islamabad and Lahore high courts in particular, were subjected to mocking criticism for being under pressure from extra-judicial forces.

The CJP gave a scathing response and left the function halfway, without completing his speech. Why the honourable judges agreed to participate in a function where the concluding speech was to be made by the convict-absconder Nawaz Sharif will remain a nagging mystery. Seeing the judges of the court which had convicted the former prime minister and the convict-absconder using the same platform to put across their points of view was detrimental to the cause of the judiciary. In doing so, the judges provided an opportunity to the organisers to manipulate their presence to advance their dastardly objectives. Saner counsel would have avoided the embarrassment.

The presence of some senior diplomats, including ambassadors and high commissioners, most notably one from the European Union (EU), who is also reported to have funded the conference, raised eyebrows, even stirring a demand to serve a demarche.

The incidence of internal subversion has been on the rise in the recent past, with an increasing number of people becoming part of the ominous plan to destabilise Pakistan. Unbelievably large sums of money are floating for disbursement among these operators who have become conduits to carry forth the germs of disunity and casting aspersions on the working of state institutions, most notably the military and the judiciary. The latter mentioned will have to take some blame for helping cultivate this narrative.

When an impression takes root that the rich and powerful are able to buy justice in the country, it only adds substance to the accusations. Even the current outstanding cases against the Sharifs have been marred by prolonged and unjustifiable delays which further strengthen the perception that the influence that is germinated by their bloated billions is the constituent for granting them reprieve. This perception has to be busted and the only way to do so is by expediting adjudication in their cases as also in cases concerning other similar criminals.

Let us not forget that, according to the World Justice Project Rule of Law Index 2021 Report, Pakistan is ranked 130th out of a total of 139 nations. In our part of the world, it finishes barely above Afghanistan which is at the rock bottom. Other countries including India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh have all performed better than Pakistan.

The exorbitant delay in disposing of cases is another grave issue. The number of pending cases in the Supreme Court alone stands at over 53,000 while the total pendency in Pakistani courts is a well over two million including 200,000 cases with LHC, 86,000 with SHC, 44,000 with PHC, 4,500 with BHC and 16,500 with IHC. Delayed justice, according to a popular dictum, is tantamount to denial of justice. Add to that the number of controversial injunctions and decisions aborted, and one gets a fairly embarrassing picture of the state of judiciary in the country. If Pakistan has to move forward, it will have to begin with delivery of speedy and transparent justice to all people irrespective of the power of their pockets and positions.

The increasing instances of subversion in the country should be a source of extreme concern for the government. The involvement of the media in this nefarious practice adds an alarming twist to the spectacle. Recently, a whistleblower has come forth to speak publicly about complicity between the ECP and Trust for Democratic Education and Accountability (TDEA) which supports the Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) in undertaking tasks of election observation, voter mobilisation, governance oversight and advocacy for electoral and democratic reform. The report regarding TDEA bearing the financial expenses of senior ECP officials at a conference creates a serious conflict-of-interest situation which must be probed.

The stated objectives that TDEA supports through FAFEN have to be implemented independent of the ECP. Any connivance among the two institutions would jeopardise the transparency of the activities and authenticity of the outcomes. News of a large amount of money having been delivered to a journalist trade union through the aegis of the same body is also circulating which deserves a thorough investigation.

Ever since the election of Prime Minister Imran Khan, the political mafias, spearheaded by the traditional family oligarchs, have developed a consensus to force him out. With the passage of time, the intensity of their invective has become more poisonous and efforts to challenge the state and its institutions more desperate. In addition to advancing their interests and escaping the prospect of political oblivion for their corrupt clans, hidden hands with an inimical agenda have sprung up. Pakistan’s interests do not figure anywhere in this menacing and consuming drive rooted in foundations of hate and hubris.

The mean machine works by wicked and dangerous mechanisms. This must be thwarted with full rationale of the state and all its institutions with the judiciary being the key player in leading this effort. Beware: there is no time to waste; with each passing day, the tentacles of subversion are digging in deeper.

The writer is the special assistant to the PM on information, a political and security strategist, and the founder of the Regional Peace Institute.

Twitter: RaoofHasan

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