NationalVolume 12 Issue # 22

The prime minister’s non-sequitors

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif appeared before the joint investigation team (JIT), formed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, to probe corruption allegations against his family. His party claimed he had created history by submitting to the rule of law and the supremacy of the Constitution but practically, he mocked the judiciary by accusing it of holding a “puppet show” of accountability of his family.

In his speech after appearing before the JIT, he said, “My financial documents are already available with all relevant institutions including the Supreme Court. Today, however, I submitted them to the JIT as well. It should be noted that the allegations have nothing to do with my tenure as prime minister and are not charges of corruption. They are charges against me and my family on a personal level. I have been the Punjab chief minister and the prime minister of Pakistan for the third time. But not a single allegation of financial corruption could be brought against me. I have put myself and my family up for trial and provided details of financial transactions made even before my birth.”

The prime minister started with the claim that he was not even an accused in the Panama case but he still had decided to present himself for interrogations. He was the prime accused in the case and even two judges of a five-member bench of the Supreme Court had found him guilty of corruption, tax evasion and money laundering and ordered his disqualification. The three other judges did not exonerate him and said more investigations were required and provided him with a chance to prove his innocence in the JIT. If he had not been an accused, he would not have been summoned by the JIT. As regards presenting himself and the family for accountability, it took Imran Khan six months of protests to force the court to hear the Panama case.

His claim of winning a bigger majority in the next election was also a

hoax. If he believed he could win the next election, he would have stepped down immediately when the Supreme Court had started hearing the Panama case. He also could have honourably quit his office before being interrogated by the JIT. Contrary to the facts, he called the Panama case the handiwork of the establishment and the judiciary. His reference of “puppet shows” and “factories working on certain agendas” aimed to malign national institutions.

His claim that he had faced accountability even before his birth was exaggerated beyond belief. It is a fact that the establishment has been the biggest supporter of him and his party. When former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto nationalized all institutions, including their Ittefaq Foundries, it was not accountability. The late General Ziaul Haq returned the factory to them and put all national resources at their disposal to crush the PPP. Even when General (retd) Pervez Musharraf toppled Nawaz Sharif’s government, he did it with a heavy heart. It is on record that he had offered Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s younger bother Shahbaz Sharif to become the prime minister of Pakistan. The PML-N and the Sharif family have been groomed and promoted by the establishment for decades. The establishment sheltered his government in the Dawnleaks, which was unimaginable for the government of any other party. If the family survives the Panama case, it would also be because of the establishment, because its elements would also be exposed if the Sharif family is subjected to strict accountability.