Lawyers for the accusers and the accused in the Panama Papers case have now staggered over the finishing line and the Supreme Court on Wednesday decided that it was going to reserve its verdict. All concerned may now be in for a long wait as 26,000 pages of material — not all of it by any means to be regarded as ‘evidence’ in purely legal terms — is to be considered by the Honourable Justices. A short order, they say, was not appropriate in this case. A range of petitions against the Sharif family are at issue, and the attempt to unseat the PM by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf appears to have foundered on a paper reef of its own making. The Honourable justices have expressed their frustration at the twists and turns the case has taken with both sides introducing contradictory material, and any clarity as to proceedings was long lost. Much has been made of the inability to prove one way or another who was the owner of four flats in London, though a consultation of the UK Land Registry would have solved the matter in hours. The authenticity of documents have been questioned as has the veracity of various signatures. Virtually every page submitted by both sides. Both sides have said that if the case is found against them then there is something wrong, indeed broken, within the justice system.
At bottom the PTI was unable to deliver a knockout blow to the PM. Much of very considerable interest regarding the turbid and opaque financial affairs of the Sharifs has been exposed. None of this is enough to take down a sitting PM with a substantial parliamentary majority. The entire exercise may be seen as misplaced political vanity on the part of the PTI leader, who’s dogged flogging of the deadest of horses took him nowhere. The PM will survive, corruption within governance remains as it ever was and innumerable lawyers got considerably richer. And the winner was? Certainly not the people of Pakistan as they sit down to begin The Panama Wait.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 24th, 2017.
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