So, it took Supreme Court more than 2 months to announce their verdict on the “Panama Case” after issuing a statement that the verdict had been saved on February 13th, 2017. During this time lofty statements were made. It was claimed that “…the verdict will be remembered for 20 years and justice will be served.” However, somehow the verdict could not live up to the frenzy that was created in its anticipation.
In a crux, the 504-page Panamagate verdict given by the Supreme Court states:
- Qatari Letter has no legal basis and cannot be accepted.
- Defense presented by the Prime Minister is not convincing.
- Clear discrepancies are present in the Prime Minister’s statements on various occasions on the Panamagate issue.
- Reference against Chairman NAB to be initiated for being indifferent in this case.
- Hudaibiya Paper Mills case to be re-initiated against Nawaz Sharif.
- 2 Judges in the 5 member bench in their verdicts stated that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif could not be considered Saadiq & Ameen (i.e. honest and trustworthy) anymore as he had concealed assets and hence did not qualify for public office.
- The remaining 3 judges ruled that the PM should be allowed to rule for the time being; however they also stated that further investigation was needed before a conclusive decision on Sharif’s qualification for the Prime Minster’s office could be reached.
- Consequently, the Supreme Court has asked for the formation of a Joint Investigation team (JIT) to further investigate the matter and present results in 2 months.
They say that a person is innocent until proven guilty and I stand by the wisdom of this statement. However, given the fact that 2 judges believe that the Prime Minister does not fall in the category of Saadiq and Ameen is a huge cause of concern for me as a citizen.
The very least that anyone expects from the person who governs them is honesty and transparency. The discrepancies in Prime Minister Sharif’s statements on the Panama case, the unconvincing nature of defense’s arguments and the need for further investigation to ascertain if the PM should be allowed to govern are all troubling indicators for me as a Pakistani.
While I am ready to put my trust in the JIT, just as I did in the Supreme Court, it only seems fair to demand that the PM should distance himself from the affairs of the state until the investigation concludes. This is important to ensure absolute transparency and objectivity of the JIT’s report.
True that such a move – if at all it takes place – will be rather unprecedented but then so is the nature of the ongoing investigation. Until the Prime Minister takes a leave of absence it might be difficult for the citizens to truly believe that the investigation will be a hundred percent objective and without external influence.