10:19 am - Sunday October 22, 2017

Right To Rule By Public Mandate : What should Nawaz Sharif do – Pakistani Lawyer

What should Nawaz Sharif doNawaz-Raheel

Nawaz Sharif must now rally the forces of democracy to his side – Yaseer Latif Hamdani , PakistaniLawyer

So the judgment has come. The thrice-elected Prime Minister has been disqualified not on the basis of the London flats or offshore companies uncovered in Panama Leaks but for the fact that he did not receive the 10,000 dirhams per month that was owed to him under contract with his own son’s company Capital FZE.

This application of an obscure accounting definition to the disqualification of a member of National Assembly who happened to be the Prime Minister amounts to a technical knockout. In theory it is possible that the former Prime Minister can file his nomination papers again and become the MNA again almost immediately. I do not understand why no one has advised the former Prime Minister to file his nomination papers for upcoming elections in NA-120. At least let us see how far you can extend the logic of this so called ‘historic judgment’. If it is an issue of non-declaration of assets, surely that is a curable issue.

After three terms as Prime Minister, Mr Sharif must now fight for his place in history; for his legacy

There is of course Article 45 of the Constitution, which grants the President of Pakistan “power to grant pardon, reprieve and respite, and to remit, suspend or commute any sentence passed by any court, tribunal or other authority.” When is the constitutional government of our country going to use this power? This is a fit case for such a pardon, especially when the ‘offence’ in this case is an extremely minor one. The PML-N needs to use various constitutional devices to bail out its chief and re-elect him as the Prime Minister of Pakistan. I hope the former Prime Minister’s advisers are adroit enough to use the constitution to establish civilian supremacy once and for all.

The important thing is to bring about far reaching changes to the constitutional landscape, which will become possible in March 2018. The first order of business should be to fulfil that erstwhile promise in Clause 4 of the Charter of Democracy to set up a Federal Constitutional Court, with equal representation from each federating unit. Second: purge Articles 62 and 63 of all the amendments brought about by General Ziaul Haq’s military dictatorship. Third: Clause 34 of the Charter of Democracy must be fulfilled. This calls for defence budget to be put before the Parliament.

It must be remembered to his credit that Nawaz Sharif is no Indira Gandhi. When the courts disqualified Indira Gandhi, she imposed emergency, passed a constitutional amendment and sent her opponents off to jail. Yet while not emulating her excesses, Mr Sharif can at the very least learn something from the Iron Lady’s resolve. The battle here is bigger than Nawaz Sharif’s own person. It is about the right to rule by public mandate unhindered by the diktat of unelected institutions. Nawaz Sharif needs to grow a backbone and understand that when you play the game of thrones, you either win or you die. Like the Gandhis in India, Bhuttos in Pakistan have shown in the past that they are willing to play the game as it ought to be played and they have given a multitude of sacrifices for it.

Nawaz Sharif must now rally the forces of democracy to his side. He must reach out to allies everywhere even amongst those his right leaning party has often persecuted, yes the liberals and the secularists who PML-N’s unthinking pro-establishment Interior Minister hounded as ‘atheists’. Nawaz Sharif must become a champion of pluralism, tolerance and inclusive democracy. He will find that the entire world will rally to his cause for this would be jus ad bellum.

For long, civilian governments and their Prime Ministers have been dispatched unceremoniously. Liaquat Ali Khan was assassinated. Nazimuddin forced out. Suhrawardy forced out. Feroze Khan Noon toppled. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto toppled. The 1990s saw the musical chairs brought about by 58(2)b. Gilani was thrown out for contempt. It is about time that the elected Prime Minister fought back and took back the space taken from the bloody civilians.

This calls for soul searching. The former Prime Minister must admit freely that he was once a stooge of a military dictator and that he was built up as the King’s Party against Benazir Bhutto. What is more is that he must admit that he was wrong when he did so but that he has now chastened up and has a measure of his real foe. No it is not Mr. Imran Khan who is your real enemy. Imran Khan is precisely where Nawaz Sharif was three decades ago. He is an aspirant to power ready and willing to do the bidding of the powers that be. There is no point beating down on PTI, which as a party is merely an unwitting pawn in the game that is being played. The issue here is of civilian supremacy. It has always been about that. It is about the right of the people to govern themselves!

So fight. But fight constitutionally and legally to the last breath. After three terms as Prime Minister, Mr Sharif must now fight for his place in history; for his legacy. May you come out on top in the glorious struggle for the sake of the people who voted for you and elected you as their rightful Prime Minister!

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