Nawaz Sharif, ex-CJP Nisar to taste justice system they left behind

By Ashraf Mumtaz

November 30, 2021 01:40 AM

Although Pakistan is facing a number of problems of various natures, the alleged audiotape of former Chief Justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar and the consistent demand being made by PML-N leaders for action against the former head of the judiciary are a blessing for the country.

Some people may view this opinion as senseless and idiotic, but the writer insists that it’s really so.

The major reason behind it is the status of the parties involved in the controversy.

The accuser, Maryam Nawaz, now seeking justice, is the vice-president of the PML-N who proudly claims that her father ruled the country thrice and is pretty confident that the party would win another term as a result of free and fair elections, whenever they are held.

After the new controversy, the PML-N will get a firsthand experience of the kind of system of justice Mian Nawaz Sharif gave the country during his three terms.

It will also get a chance to learn what kind of hardships the common man has to face to get justice even in petty matters. If Maryam’s ‘grievance’ is not redressed despite its gravity, she will have to blame her illustrious father.

Needless to recall that many in politics say that the Sharifs believe in hiring judges rather than lawyers to get the desired results.

The way the Sharifs got former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and her husband (and former president) Asif Ali convicted and disqualified at the hands of Justice Qayyum is fresh in public memories. Unfortunately, the industrialist-turned-politician family has not been able to negate the charge that it was then Ehtesab Bureau chairman Sifur Rehman and Shehbaz Sharif who had influenced the bench.

(Saifur Rehman’s daughter is now wedded to Maryam’s son Junaid – a development that establishes the strong bonds between the two families).

On the other hand, it is an opportunity for former CJP Saqib Nisar to see the kind of judicial system he headed from December 31, 2016, to January 17, 2019.

He will personally experience the kind of help the existing system offers to the ‘aggrieved’ party – assuming that the allegation against him is baseless.

This is a test case for both parties.

The judiciary of the country is so powerful that only a few days ago CJP Gulzar Ahmad summoned Prime Minister Imran Khan to the court on a short notice of a couple of hours.  The premier had to cancel all his engagements of the day to be able to comply with the court order and offer his point of view on the seven-year-old Army Public School tragedy.

If a man who headed the judiciary doesn’t get justice and is left to the mercy of circumstances, the hollowness and inadequacy of the system will be established beyond an iota of doubt.

Likewise, if the controversy kicked up by Maryam Nawaz regarding the conviction/disqualification of her father and the three-time former prime minister is not addressed by the relevant quarters, it will be the strongest testimony of the ‘reforms’ introduced by the three PML-N governments.

As for the fair and unfair methods parties use to come to power is a different question.  

Monday’s newspapers carried a story of the PML-N and the PPP trading allegations of pre-poll rigging in NA-133 (Lahore), after video clips went viral on social media wherein voters could be seen in queues with their ID cards and selling their votes on oath.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) took notice of the videos and ordered the authorities concerned to not only look into the matter to determine its authenticity but also to arrest anyone involved in the “purchasing” of votes.

PML-N’s Shaista Pervaiz (a widow going through her iddat period) and PPP’s Aslam Gill are the major contestants from the constituency after the rejection of nomination papers of PTI candidate Jamshed Iqbal Cheema and his wife

Musarrat, who was his covering candidate.

After the emergence of the above-mentioned videos, Returning Officer (RO) Syed Basit Ali wrote four separate letters to the Punjab police chief, National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) chairman, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) chairman and Lahore Commissioner, drawing their attention to the videos.

The letters read that people could be seen distributing cash for “getting on-oath pledges from voters to cast votes" in favour of a political party.

They further read that the videos showed some people noting down the credentials of the voters for buying their ballots for some cash.

They added that some pictures and banners of contesting candidates could also be seen in the background.

A day before, a notice was also issued to PPP candidate Aslam Gill by the RO to explain his position in relation to the videos, after a complaint was lodged against him by Muhammad Arif, reportedly a PML-N activist. Arif had accused the PPP candidate, who is also the PPP’s Lahore president, of buying votes for Rs2,000 each and making the voters take an oath.

PPP Punjab General Secretary Hasan Murtaza, who is also the parliamentary leader in the Punjab Assembly, said Gill, while appearing before the RO, denied allegation of purchasing votes.

Pervaiz Malik had won this seat in 2018 by securing 90,000 votes.  

This National Assembly seat from Lahore had fallen vacant due to the death of the PML-N MNA, who had passed away on October 11.

The by-election for this seat is scheduled for December 5.

Written By

Ashraf Mumtaz

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