By Shahjahan Khurram
In democracies around the world, moral authority is the driving force through which one occupies a public office and more importantly, stakes his claim to remain in one. Thursday’s Supreme Court verdict regarding the Panama Leaks controversy has stripped Mian Sahib from all, in my opinion and it is for the betterment of the country and his family that he resign from the country’s highest political office.
Let’s grasp a firm understanding of the verdict and more importantly, what it implies. Two judges from the five-member bench who heard the case were of the view that Nawaz Sharif should be disqualified while the remaining three decided that Sharif and his sons deserve to be further scrutinized.
A simple question begs the mind: Where is the victory for the Sharif family and PML-N in all of this? When did any of the esteemed judges decide that the Prime Minister and his family had satisfied all legal requirements regarding the ownership of the London flats?
The image of Nawaz Sharif and his two sons being held accountable in front of a Joint Investigation Team will be a shameful one for Pakistan. Today, the Prime Minister has lost all credibility and moral right to govern (if he had any to begin with) after the Supreme Court’s verdict.
Imagine a scenario in which a person is accused of theft at the organisation where he works at. His department appoints a board of five members to probe the matter further and two out of them decide to kick him out of the office. The remaining three want him to be investigated further.
Should the suspect then parade around the streets in jubilation and exchange sweets at his predicament? Or should he wait with baited breath as the second round of the investigation begins? What of his credibility, his reputation and his status in that organisation?
Same is the case with our incumbent Prime Minister. His statements on record as well as his family members are also in conflict with each other regarding the ownership of the London flats (a fact also documented in the Supreme Court’s judgment).
However, this is the politics of Pakistan–where ‘democrats’ often criticise the military for disrupting the system by whose rules they themselves seldom seem to play by. PML-N leaders and supporters will keep on regurgitating the message that they have been vindicated when in fact the reality is quite the opposite.
Nawaz Sharif’s moral authority came under strain when the shameful Panama Leaks scandal came to the fore and if anything, it has now evaporated after the Supreme Court’s verdict. However, this is an issue where egos are at play and Mian Sahib is not one to back down when that occurs.
In my humble opinion, the Prime Minister save himself, his family and the country some dignity by tendering his resignation. Sharif should present himself and his two sons in front of the Joint Investigation Team as an ordinary citizen of Pakistan–not it’s Chief Executive who wields absolute power.
If what he says is true and there’s no embezzlement involved, Nawaz Sharif can walk away an innocent man and shut his opponents’ cries for good. But if he continues to cling on to the coveted post of Prime Minister, then the notion that ‘where there’s smoke there’s fire’ will certainly play on everyone’s minds.
Story first published: 20th April 2017