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Living Beyond the means by Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi

Once again I took the courage of browsing through and reading the Panama JIT final report. I hope many other reports lurching in storages like Hamood ur Rehman Commission, Abbottabad Commission, Memogate Commission and Dawn Leaks should see the light of the day. Sharing facts about the running of our state is very important for the building of a nation.

Before I comment on the Panama JIT report I would like to state clearly that I am a biased person and that fact should be kept in mind when reading this piece. I am not a journalist nor a columnist but I am a politician and my political aim is to see Pakistan emerge as a strong nation where there is rule of law, application of law equally to all citizens; social and economic justice; and strong democratic traditions where both civil and military dictators are rejected.

I have also consistently emphasized that an elected Prime Minister should not resign under pressure but rather should be sent home through a due process. Because if PM resigns then he becomes a common citizen and a common citizen faces application of law every day. So he should face these charges as an incumbent PM because abuse of high office is common in our country which has to be stopped. So as an incumbent PM if he tries to influence state organs they have to resist it that will build their confidence to stand on their feet which are important for nation building.

Abuse of office, as well as flattery of those in power, is quite common in Pakistan at every level. Just some months ago there were cries for ab aa jao Raheel Shareef or jane ki batain jane do but now everyone found the courage to raise fingers at him for joining Saudi military alliance. Similarly, macho man, Gen Musharraf could not be forced to face trial and allowed to leave but now he is busy enjoying dance parties rather than respect courts of the country and face trial. His institution is always eager and willing to lend hand to help Supreme Court conduct a fair JIT for a civilian PM but could not convince its former COAS to come back to the country and face trial. In aid of civil power, this clause is always available to try civilians but become mute when it comes to one of their own. So I have a question for all Corps Commanders and COAS they are always worried about the nation and its well-being but they can’t stand to see their former COAS face civilian courts. Can this be called standing up for the nation, justice or principles?

There have been not one but three JITs running at the same time. One was the court mandated and two others were media JIT and social media JIT. Media was divided between for and against camps but social media JIT had already issued a verdict seeking the head of the elected PM. That reminded me of French Revolution where there would be daily cries to guillotine enemies of the Republic for up to four years until the thirst of the crowd was exhausted killing everyone that had any role to play in the revolution. The final product of the revolution was the emergence of a military dictator and historians conclusion that the revolution was a waste and unnecessary killing. The authority on French Revolution Alexis de Tocqueville concluded that reforms started before the revolution but were derailed by the revolution. Those same reforms were introduced after the blood thirst of the nation was satisfied. Same thing happened after Russian revolution when it ended with the emergence of the ruthless dictator Stalin and in China emergence of another dictator Mao. So those that are seeking blood without having any patience for the due process or without demanding it for everyone rather than just the civilian rulers are only destabilizing this country to satisfy their anger to avenge failure of politicians to deliver.

I do agree that justice has to start somewhere and living beyond the means is a good threshold. I also agree that it should start with most powerful people but why does it always have to be only civilians and politicians. Supreme Court should utilize the political capital it has acquired in the form of support of people and embark on a process that ensures everyone living beyond the means becomes answerable. The inclusion of ISI and MI in JIT was considered a necessity for Supreme Court because they needed a strong arm ally to deal with the influence of civilian rulers. But that reliance on the military has a long history and it is about time that Supreme Court should start taking actions to strengthen the civilian institutions dealing with the prosecution of powerful people.

It is always said that there is foreign hand in the affairs of Pakistan. Once again in Panama JIT report, there is clear evidence of foreign hands. On the one hand is the letter of a Qatari Shahzada who has tried to bail out Prime Minister by providing evidence for money trail. To counter that there is a letter from UAE Ministry of Justice that says no record exists of any transaction. It is also a fact that both Qatar and UAE are monarchies where everything is done in the interest of the monarch and there is no concept of justice as we understand it. So I will look at both these letters with a fair dose of skepticism.

Imran Khan has a political problem. His followers claim him to be the darling of the people but when it comes to ballot box people are not voting for his candidates. In Karachi PS-114 where every polling station was manned by Sind Rangers inside and outside they, PTI-L of Imran Khan lost election miserably. Why? Because Imran Khan is not against corruption. He is just against Nawaz Sharif while giving shelter to other corrupt politicians in Bani Gala. So he is a good tool to defeat the status quo Nawaz Sharif but not a choice of the nation to lead. It is hence very important to develop PTI that can defeat status quo parties at the ballot box which cannot be done by PTI-L. Friends of Imran Khan are very angry at me these days and demanding my removal from all social media groups of the party. I understand their anger it is not easy to break an old emotional relationship that has gone sour in last four years.

Finally, the Panama JIT report can be classified as the FIR developed by the investigative arm created by the Supreme Court. It has unearthed some good information that will be useful in holding a fair trial of PM Nawaz Sharif and his family. Supreme Court, as a court of final jurisdiction, can’t conduct the trial itself and instead of sending the case to NAB should ask the high court or any other constitutionally mandated trial court that has jurisdiction to form a special bench to prosecute and deliver a verdict within a stipulated time frame. I don’t support NAB and consider them one of the sources of corruption in the country. Sending reference to them will end up benefiting the accused as has been the case evident from plea bargains signed by them.

We should celebrate the rule of law and down with all those that live beyond their means stealing money from the nation whether it is a politician, general, bureaucrat, or oligarch.

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