Have demons from Sharifs’ past married skeletons in their closet?
On a fateful Friday, 21 July, all parties concluded their arguments and their Lordships reserved the judgment to be announced at a later stage
Their Lordships have reserved the Panamagate judgment, once again. It is second time during past five months that judgments have been reserved in Panama case. Previously, on 23 February 2017, the same 3-member Bench plus Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and Justice Gulzar Ahmed reserved the judgment that was to be announced at a later time. After almost two months, on20 April, the judgment was announced, and both parties celebrated and distributed sweetmeat.
The sanity and better sense prevailed a day after.
We’ll form a JIT that will probe the matter of assets abroad and all related affairs, said the judges in their 470-page lengthy judgment. Bring it on, said both the lion and the player, while others chimed in the chorus as well. Then things started to turn ugly, princes were hauled before the ‘Super-Six’, uncles too attended, Lady M also made a cameo but foremost of all, the King himself appeared before half a dozen gentlemen whose job security is still in his hand.
10 July 2017 — Joint Investigation Team submits the report to Supreme Court and for a day or two, all hell breaks loose. The ministers yell, those who want to become ministers yell louder. Their Lordships pay little heed and hearings continue again from 17 July. Rejection petitions were submitted by both King and his heirs through separate counsels and a flood of new documents inundated the Courtroom #2.
On a fateful Friday, 21 July, all parties concluded their arguments and their Lordships reserved the judgment to be announced at a later stage. The clock started ticking again and so the murmurs are getting noisy, the sleepless nights grow longer, the advice comes more frequently, the planning becomes more intricate, the complaining gets more unbridled, the eavesdropping more frequent, the excitement peaks, the horror becomes rife, the wait refuses to end, and the whispers grow louder and louder and louder.
About time we took a trip down the memory lane, folks. Remember, it all ‘started’ decades ago, when Grandfather did roaring, massive business, struck million-dollar deals abroad, made billions in a time when making a million was nothing short of a miracle, reached zenith and then died. However, an alternate trail to all that ‘surfaced’ last year during the cruellest month of April.
In the immediate aftermath, our PM addressed the nation and agreed to form judicial commission to probe the allegations levelled against his children in Panama Papers, who according to leaks “were owners or had the right to authorise transactions for several companies”.
And from then on began a slow and steady march of our king and his progeny towards the pantheon of the infamous.
Both sons are innocuous. Hassan living in UK, Hussain in Saudi Arabia. Overseas Pakistanis, NRPs. Both doing businesses. Both lack inclination or intention to land in politics. Both are, thus, relevant only because their father is King and their sister is heir apparent.
The last time a PM was sent home by their Lordships, it was a contempt of court verdict against the erstwhile Prime Minister Gilani
Well, all hail the first daughter who quotes excerpts from Francis Bacon and Shakespeare in her Twitter introduction. All hail, successor of King, Lady Maryam Nawaz whose future is jeopardised and at a crossroads where both roads are treacherous and inundated with abysses. To her, the entire Panama plan was set in motion to clip her wings — followed by millions on Twitter, loved by many, loathed by few — before she gets an opportunity to spread them and fly.
During Panamagate, King’s family roped in the biggest and the brightest litigators to fight their hardest battle yet. If we put the joint standing of all three counsels of PML-N — Makhdoom Ali Khan, Salman Akram Raja and Shahid Hamid — together, the years of their standing will barely fall short of a century. Only one from them remains in the ring, Mr Salman Akram Raja, who has also bagged Maryam Nawaz since Mr Shahid Hamid, Maryam’s previous counsel, is currently ‘unavailable’ and Makhdoom Ali Khan has some engagements outside the country.
Let us hope that this time around, their Lordships will be gracious enough and give us a categorical decision rather than a judgment that prolongs our never ending wait of meeting our Godot. We are yet to witness a ‘closure’, hopefully, we’ll have it soon.
While people of Pakistan were well aware of hawala and hundi as means to funnel ill-gotten wealth abroad, the term ‘offshore companies’ dethroned them both in public imagination as well as social discourse. Since Panama Papers dawned upon the world last April, the very word ‘offshore company’ now stands (at least in Pakistan) for corruption, tax evasion and money laundering all paired together.
Their Lordships presided over a case that was intricate, rather Byzantine, to say the least. There was (and still is) a nowhere-in-sight money trail; a family, referred to as a ‘conglomerate’ by one of their Counsels, represented by three separate advocates who are well-respected, learned and seasoned; an ‘Onus of Proof’ that keeps on shifting hither and thither; a ménage that founded and sold factories in the holiest of lands and in a country nearby; curious queries pertaining to ownership of four Avenfield flats in upscale London; and other motley group of questions that beg both answers and explanations.
Let us not forget, our king has recently outlived a potentially brutal thunderstorm, if memory serves one right, a story on civ-military rifts published in a leading daily last October was considered by many a final nail in the coffin of King. But then, one fine afternoon, we were told that the whole issue ‘stands settled’.
For the past nine months, the lickspittles, turn coats, opportunists, human ATMs and investors have been accompanying their leaders from both side of the aisle to Big Marble Palace. They have locked horns for political supremacy and relevancy via their Lordships.
The bottom line is that Panama case was, is and will remain so a matter of life and death for politicians involved. The ugly truth about it is; the contenders are hellbent to battle it out in courtrooms of Big Marble Palace rather than through ballot box.
The last time a PM was sent home by their Lordships, it was a contempt of court verdict against the erstwhile Prime Minister Gilani, respected Justice Khosa in his note had written, ‘pity the nation that punishes its weak and poor but is shy of bringing its high and mighty to book; pity the nation that clamors for equality before law but has selective justice close to its heart’. And since the pitiable practice of pitying continues, let us supplement it with an excerpt from ‘Of Great Place’ by Francis Bacon, who happens to be our Lady M’s favourite writer.
MEN in great place are thrice servants: servants of the sovereign or state; servants of fame; and servants of business. So as they have no freedom; neither in their persons, nor in their actions, nor in their times. It is a strange desire, to seek power and to lose liberty: or to seek power over others and to lose power over a man’s self. The rising unto place is labourious; and by pains men come to greater pains; and it is sometimes base; and by indignities men come to dignities
The King is most definitely not dead, but will he escape disqualification? Will he come to dignities by indignities? So, will he be spared? Or given a way out? Or made an example of? Or walk free with minimal damage?
What is your take, ehh. The King is…?
By Shah Nawaz Mohal