The six month long drama of a probe in the potential financial corruption of the incumbent PM of Pakistan, Mr. Nawaz Sharif and his family ended with a whimper where a roar was anticipated. A freshly manufactured joke going around in the country sums it up nicely: “The pregnant lady went through six months of ultrasounds and test only to conclude that it was just gas!”
In essence, the supreme court decided to placate both the hunter and the hunted. The pack of blood thirsty hyenas led by the Mr. Imran Khan of Pakistan Tehrik Insaf (PTI) were provided something to chew on but not a satisfying dinner. The hunted were provided a full meal, but on credit for a period of six months only.
The verdict was greet equally vociferously by both parties. Pictures have appeared of M/S Imran Khan and Nawaz Sharif celebrating with a plateful of Mithai (traditional sweets): clearly the true winners in this judgment were the Mithai sellers.
The Supreme Court consists of wise judges – as it should be. By ordering the formation of a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) that will further probe the matter and submit their finding in six months, they have stayed clear of any responsibility for giving a clear verdict in the favor of either party. This way they have protected themselves from both the bouquets and brickbats that would have been launched at them.
But the highest court of a country is tasked to judge and not to pass the buck, and on this criteria they have failed the people of Pakistan. In the past JITs have been formed and nothing conclusive has ever come out of their deliberations. As a matter of fact the whole purpose of taking the Panamagate to the supreme court was the acceptance that the normal means of probing a corruption case against those in power were futile as the independence of the investigating agencies was not possible.
The only interesting aspect of the judgement is the order to include Military Intelligence and the Inter Services Intelligence agency in the JIT. This is a very significant decision as it legitimizes the role of the army in a financial probe against a civilian party. It appears that the Supreme Court wants to play safe by making the all powerful army a part of the investigative team. But it begs the question: Is the supreme court cutting the branch of the tree on which they are sitting?
Now it is back to the “analysts” shouting themselves hoarse on media talk shows and vicious statements bandied about by both the ruling party and the opposition for at least another six months. Last week one of the respected judges had commented that the implications of the Panamagate decision will be felt of the next twenty years and that may indeed be the case!
It seems that the supreme court has managed to please everyone; the accused, the accuser and a very interested third party (known as the Third Umpire in the Pakistani parlance). What it has failed to do though is to satisfy the demands of justice: which after all, is their job.