FB   
 
Powered bysps
        Society for Policy Studies
 
 

 
There is life after Panama
Posted:Apr 21, 2017
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 
The Supreme Court has given its long awaited ruling in the Panama Papers case yesterday. The five-member bench passed a 3-2 verdict calling for the establishment of a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe those tricky and tough questions that the Apex court found hard to address after lengthy deliberations lasting half a year. The proposed JIT would consist of representatives from the FIA, State Bank of Pakistan, NAB, MI and ISI and would seemingly work at an exhaustive pace, submitting a weekly report to a SC larger bench. Apparently, prosecutorial work is to be accomplished in two months. Importantly, although two of the bench’s members, Justice Khosa and Justice Gulzar, wrote dissenting notes that sought the prime minister’s disqualification for having cheated the nation – the other three judges resisted, thus preventing this grand manoeuvre.
Naturally, the cadre and leadership of the PML-N were jubilant and did not miss an opportunity to score points over their rivals from PTI. Indeed, an hour before the so-called “historic verdict’’, Daniyal Aziz and Talal Chaudhry exuded spectacular confidence through verbosity of speech and exaggerated body language; whereas the PTI folk seemed daunted, thus remaining relatively low-key. In fact, Imran Khan even refused to talk to the media that had gathered around the Supreme Court complex. Interestingly, the court’s judgment was no different from that of the PML-N cadre. The foregoing, however, raises questions.
Is this victory for the Sharifs? Did the PTI win if one takes into account minority opinion? Did the PM and the government get a clean chit or is it simply a respite for a couple of months since, according to some analysts Panama II The Sequel has just begun? Will the JIT be any different from the Supreme Court itself? How does this decision impact electoral politics, in particular, and civil-military relations, in general, in the months that follow? The following attempts to address these important questions.
To begin, quite contrary to the wishes and whims of many TV-dependent Pakistanis, especially diehard Imran Khan fans, the 3-2 verdict goes in the favour of the Sharifs, who have survived the fate of former PM Gilani. In a politically charged society, it is no less than a blessing to continue in office as prime minister, and that, too, when general elections are due next year. Disqualification from the bench would certainly have damaged the PML-N in terms of party leadership, organisation and electoral strategy.
In contrast, the court’s decision, in political terms, does not seem to have favoured the PTI, which is seeking nothing less than the political death of the ruling family. Instead, the PTI has now got its work cut out if it wants to take the fight to the electoral battlefield. Moreover, though the SC’s judgment does not represent a clean chit – the Sharifs and the government itself are expected to sail through the JIT phase too, for the latter, technically, would be government-dependent. One wonders how the FIA and NAB would be more efficient given their non-performance from the perspective of the Apex judiciary. One here may cite the inclusion of MI and ISI into JIT as potential danger for the prime minister and his family given their complex history with the top military brass. The latter is most likely to stay away from politicking in this case, as the COAS had already hinted during his recent meeting with Imran Khan. Moreover, within the contemporary context, the civil government is working as per the governance design that was chalked out by the GHQ – the re-establishment of military courts, for example. Thus the Sharifs are not likely going to be facing the music in the months to come, unless, of course, they commit a blunder of major proportions. In addition, as per the history of JIT (and that of the Panama case), the joint investigation teams perform a purely investigative task and usually lack judgmental powers. Since the Sharifs provided the Court with particular types of evidence, which the latter failed to cross-verify on its own, the family would rather sign its own death certificates than submit evidence that risks going against it.
 
Last but not the least, the very survival of the Sharif family in particular and the PML-N in general point to a gradual increase in their political and electoral clout in the election run-up. The PTI and PPP will have to put in extra hours if they want to have any serious hope of challenging the N-League, especially in the Punjab where PTI lost a by-election to PML-N a day before the Panama verdict. As regards the contours of civil-military relations, the party-in-power would be amused at having avoided unwelcome intervention on the part of the military. This means, then, that the latter will renew all efforts to be seen chasing militants at home and figuring out how to deal with its eastern neighbour as well as the US in the weeks, if not months, to come. In a nutshell, there is life after Panama for each stakeholder and the political parties are very likely to settle scores, not in the court and streets but at the polls.
 
Daily Times, April 21, 2017
 
 
 
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 

Disclaimer: South Asia Monitor does not accept responsibility for the views or ideology expressed in any article, signed or unsigned, which appears on its site. What it does accept is responsibility for giving it a chance to appear and enter the public discourse.
Comments (Total Comments 0) Post Comments Post Comment
Review
 
 
 
 
spotlight image Since Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina assumed office again in Bangladesh in 2009, bilateral relations between New Delhi and Dhaka have been on a steady upward trajectory.
 
read-more
Senior representatives from the US, China, Pakistan and Afghanistan met in Muscat, Oman, on Monday to revive stalled peace talks with the Taliban, but the insurgent group failed to participate in the meeting being held after a year.
 
read-more
Ruskin Bond’s first novel ‘Room on the Roof’ describes in vivid detail how life in the hills around Dehradun used to be. Bond, who is based in Landour, Mussoorie, since 1963, captured the imagination of countless readers as he painted a picture of an era gone by.
 
read-more
India’s foreign policy under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has attained a level of maturity which allows it to assert itself in an effective manner. This is aimed at protecting the country’s national interests in a sustained way.
 
read-more
Braid-chopping incidents have added to the already piled up anxieties of Kashmiris. Once again they are out on the streets, to give vent to their anger. A few persons, believed to be braid-choppers were caught hold by irate mobs at various places. They were beaten to pulp.
 
read-more
China has witnessed great historic changes in the past five years from the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) to the upcoming 19th CPC National Congress.
 
read-more
In a move lauded worldwide, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud recently issued a royal decree allowing women to obtain driving licences.
 
read-more
Recently, United States President Donald Trump kicked the onus of the US backing out of the Iran nuclear deal to the US Congress. The question is how we interpret this technically, in terms of domestic politics and in terms of geopolitics.
 
read-more
It is a privilege to be invited to this most prestigious of law schools in the country, more so for someone not formally lettered in the discipline of law. I thank the Director and the faculty for this honour.
 
read-more
Column-image

Title: The People Next Door -The Curious History of India-Pakistan Relations; Author: T.C.A. Raghavan; Publisher: HarperCollins ; Pages: 361; Price: Rs 699

 
Column-image

Could the North Korean nuclear issue which is giving the world an anxious time due to presence of hotheads on each side, the invasion of Iraq and its toxic fallout, and above all, the arms race in the teeming but impoverished South Asian subcon...

 
Column-image

Title: A Bonsai Tree; Author: Narendra Luther; Publisher: Niyogi Books; Pages: 227 Many books have been written on India's partition but here is a firsthand account of the horror by a migrant from what is now Pakistan, who ...

 
Column-image

As talk of war and violence -- all that Mahatma Gandhi stood against -- gains prominence across the world, a Gandhian scholar has urged that the teachings of the apostle of non-violence be taken to the classroom.

 
Column-image

Interview with Hudson Institute’s Aparna Pande, whose book From Chanakya to Modi: Evolution of India’s Foreign Policy, was released on June 17.

 
Subscribe to our newsletter
Archive