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April 21, 2017

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Lots of disappointments for opposition

Lots of disappointments for opposition

ISLAMABAD: For some people it is hard to find anything special in the SC’s majority judgment that could be remembered even for months, while for others it will be remembered for 20 years. 

There are lots of disappointments in the judgment, authored by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, for the petitioners or the opposition parties which were frustratingly waiting for the premier’s removal.

For Sharifs’ opponents, the only soothing point in the majority judgment is the setting up of a Joint Investigation Team to probe the money matters of Sharifs. As a result of JIT probe if anything concrete comes out against Nawaz Sharif, he may find himself in hot waters.

However, here too not much is expected to come out because of the fact that the JIT would mostly include members from government departments controlled by the government itself.

And even otherwise, the questions raised in the judgment about money matters mostly relate to the times of late Mian Muhammad Sharif -- the prime minister’s father. No better judgment was expected for Sharifs than the one handed down on Thursday.

The SC decided to include ISI and MI representatives in the JIT but did not include FBR which is the most relevant department for tax related matters. 

To the pleasure of Sharifs, the judgment excluded Maryium Nawaz, Ishaq Dar and Captain ® Safdar from further probe as the JIT would only inquire Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his two sons in relation to their past money matters. 

The apex court judgment appears to be the detailed version of what in August last year the Registrar SC had said while returning the Panama petitions.

Most of the prayers of the petitioners have been discarded by the judgment as those matters could not be entertained by the apex court under Article 184(3) of the constitution. 

In August last year, the SC Registrar while returning the petitions had said, “The petitioner is directly invoking the extraordinary jurisdiction of the SC under Article 184 (3) of the Constitution which is not permissible in view of the SC’s judgment.”

The Registrar had added, “The petitioner (Imran Khan) has not approached any other appropriate forum available to him under the law for the same relief. He has also not provided the justification for not doing so.”

Mostly it was expected that the apex court would at least direct the government to reform the state institutions like NAB, FIA and FBR to make them independent from political and extraneous pressures for fair probe of cases of corruption, fraud, tax evasion etc.

But in this case too, the SC desisted from passing any direction to the government for the reformation of these institutions. The SC order said, “Yes, the officers at the peak of NAB and FIA may not cast their prying eyes on the misdeeds and lay their arresting hands on the shoulders of the elites on account of their being amenable to the influence of the latter or because of their being beholden to the persons calling the shots in the matters of their appointment posting and transfer. But it does not mean that this Court should exercise a jurisdiction not conferred on it and act in derogation of the provisions of the Constitution and the law regulating trichotomy of power and conferment of jurisdiction on the courts of law.”

The order added, “Any deviation from the recognized course would be a recipe for chaos….. The solution lies not in bypassing but in activating the institutions by having recourse to Article 190 of the Constitution. Political excitement, political adventure or even popular sentiments real or contrived may drive any or many to an aberrant course but we have to go by the law and the book. Let us stay and act within the parameters of the Constitution and the law as they stand, till the time they are changed or altered through an amendment therein.”

In view of this judgment, the issues like contradictions in PM’s speeches, disparity between the statement of PM and his children in connection with London properties, question of re-opening of Hudaibia Mill case, disqualification of PM under Aricle 62-63 because of mis-statement etc. stand closed.

Now, the Sharifs -- Nawaz and his two sons -- have to respond to the questions about how did Gulf Steel Mill come into being; what led to its sale; what happened to its liabilities; where did its sale proceeds end up; how did they reach Jeddah, Qatar and the U.K.; whether PM’s sons had the means in the early nineties to possess and purchase the flats; whether Qatari letter is a myth or a reality; who owned the offshore companies etc etc. And these questions would be put to them by a JIT comprising government officials and led by DG FIA, who is appointed by no one else but the prime minister himself. 

 

 

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