Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan Tehrek-e-Insaf (PTI) member Jahangir Khan Tareen have been disqualified for life. The Supreme Court of Pakistan has announced the much-awaited decision and ruled that legislators disqualified under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution will not be able to contest elections for the rest of their life.
According to the judgment, as long as the declaration remains, this decision will remain in effect.The apex court judges unanimously ruled that the constitution states; that individuals who are not honest and truthful as per law are banned for life from contesting elections. However, the statement further added that the 18th Amendment, passed in 2010, did not determine a time frame for disqualification. The incumbent government leaders have strongly criticized the decision.
The current Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting, Maryam Aurangzeb speaking from outside the court said, “This decision is similar to Supreme Court rulings which took former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to the gallows and led to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.” She also accused the faceless and nameless non-state actors, who decided to disqualify Nawaz twice-as a head of the state and president of PML-N and now have ruled against him for holding a public office for life.
Minister blamed the same elements for barring the party from participating in the March 3 Senate elections.Moreover, member of PML-N staged an unprecedented loud protest against the ruling. The PTI leadership did not give a prompt reaction to this decision. Since Tareen’s review petition is still in the apex court.
Giving his views on verdict, Tareen tweeted, “I always believed 62 1(f) to be for life, but not applicable in my case. Full money trail provided of tax paid income, property declared in assets of children and not mine on the advice of tax consultant.
This was the only issue. My review is still pending, and IA justice will prevail.” Opposition leader Khursheed Shah responded to the disqualification and said that in 2010 during the 18th amendment, Nawaz did not listen to the PPP’s recommendations to change the clause and now must bear the consequences.
This article was introduced by General Zia when Nawaz was the Chief Minister. In other words, Nawaz supported this clause. SC had to follow the constitution, which everyone must understand and follow, Khursheed Shah asserted. Supreme Court also gave an additional note, which stated that dishonest people cannot sit in the parliament.
Though some analysts says some of the close allies of Nawaz might opt to boycott the elections, this move can backfire and can put Nawaz on the back foot. The aggression of Maryam Aurangzeb, reflects that Nawaz will contest the upcoming election under the umbrella of victimization.
The political power of Nawaz has apparently increased if one considers Nawaz’s rallies and mass public gatherings. But, the electable are eluding his party, this move also signals that Nawaz is losing support after failing to defend himself decisively on the Panama case.
Every day after accountability hearing, he predicts the decisions of apex and accountability court, claiming that the verdict has already been taken.
Maryam Aurangzeb also followed the same pattern in her press conferences outside the Supreme Court. Nawaz has conceded that he has nothing on hand to prove his innocence in the accountability court and that the NAB is encircling the big guns and high profile figures in the government which may also lead to an alleged connection between Shahbaz Sharif and high-level bureaucrats, jeopardizing his chances in 2018 general elections. It is not the first time; the court has ordered such a decision.
The precedent is already set, and verdict made references to several different cases in line with the constitution. Under the cloud of uncertainty, Nawaz is expected to confront the institutions. Since, his disqualification, the anti-judiciary campaign has been started off by the Sharif families, who have condemned the judiciary in the harshest way possible.
Going forward after a lifetime disqualification, Nawaz will continue to play the victim card, abuse judiciary on its past mistakes, thwart the accountability process, degrade the institutions using the anti-judicial rhetoric & somehow save the ill-gotten wealth & damaged repute, post lifetime disqualification.