April 26, 2018

When the election turns into a selection

Khawaja Asif
Imran Khan likes to refer to Nawaz Sharif as The Godfather because the Supreme Court in its infinite wisdom decided to reference “The Godfather” (a fictional book by Mario Puzo) in the Panamagate verdict. He likes to use it because because the analogy reinforces the idea that Nawaz Sharif is a don (head of the PML-N), surrounded by his henchmen (top leadership of the PML-N), running Pakistan’s version of the Sicilian mafia. Today, the Islamabad High Court disqualified another one of Nawaz Sharif’s henchmen — Khawaja Asif, for life. Khawaja Asif said he’ll appeal the verdict in the Supreme Court, but we all see a lost cause when we see one, right?

Or maybe we don’t. This is more fuel to the fire. First, they went after Nawaz Sharif. They technically couldn’t do much to him because hey, nothing — not the offshore companies and not the accursed flats in London —  was actually in his name. They were either under his sons’ names, or they were under Maryam Nawaz Sharif Safdar’s name. So what did they do? They pulled the lamest excuse in the entire universe, that Nawaz Sharif is dishonest and untruthful because he did not declare that he could have received a salary from the company of his son, registered in Dubai, and even though he actually did not receive that salary, he still could have received it, to disqualify him from the prime ministership. You still want to say they weren’t out to get him from the start?

Khawaja Asif’s case is different. He has an iqama of the UAE — a residence visa — which allows him the ability to flitter between Pakistan and Dubai should the going get tough; which it seems to have gotten. But the judges said it was not his iqama that was the problem; it was the fact that he was receiving a monthly salary from Dubai, and had not declared his employment in his nomination papers. This made him ineligible to contest the elections in the first place. In 2017, Usman Dar of the PTI filed a petition challenging the legality of Khawaja Asif’s election and thus, Khawaja Asif was also found dishonest and untruthful much like Nawaz Sharif and now, he’s out on his butt for the rest of his life. The establishment’s blue eyed boy celebrates wild today.

We are part of the democratic process. This means that when a judge passes a ruling, we are bound by our civic duty as upstanding citizens of our country to accept it. But even the judges in this case had to concede that this ugliness has gone on for far too long now. Justice Athar Minallah wrote in the judgement that:

“It would have been been appropriate if the petitioner [Usman Dar of the PTI] had gone to the parliament to deliberate on this matter, before invoking the jurisdiction of the court.” 

But Usman Dar did not go to the parliament. He used the precedent set by the Supreme Court, which weaponized Articles 62 and 63 of the constitution of Pakistan, and used it as a sword to cut off Khawaja Asif’s political legacy.

The judiciary (and by extension, the PTI) has made a complete mockery of the democratic and political process in Pakistan. It is the people of Pakistan who elected Nawaz Sharif, Khawaja Asif, Chaudhry Nisar, Imran Khan, Usman Dar, Jehangir Khan Tareen, Asad Umar, and it should be the people of Pakistan who should decide how to punish those who lie to them. And the ladies and gentlemen that the people of Pakistan have elected to sit in the parliament of Pakistan, should deliberate on what needs to be done to those who violate the sanctity of the oath that they’ve taken. That’s the democratic process.

Instead, we’ve got power hungry maniacs invoking a judicial martial law and using it again and again to fire at those that they’re opposed to. The judiciary’s role is not to adjudicate on the political destiny of Pakistan; that is the job of the parliament and the people of Pakistan. The judiciary’s job is to ensure that due process and the spirit of the law is followed.

As it turns out, the PTI would much rather have the judiciary of Pakistan decide the political destiny of Pakistan, even if it means the spirit of the law gets trampled beneath the heavy boots of irony.