Self-serving political expediency seems to be the only motive behind the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s proposal for amendments to the Constitution. All other considerations including the so-called ‘sanctity of vote’, as articulated by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif during the past week, are mere excuses. Although Mr Sharif has not specified the constitutional clauses that he wishes to change, other PML-N leaders have broadly identified them as Article 62-1-f — which the Supreme Court invoked when it disqualified him as the premier — and Article 184-3 which deals with the court’s jurisdiction to take up cases of public importance unilaterally. There is no provision of appeal against the decisions adjudicated by the top court under Article 184-3.
Both the ruling party and its ex-chief have reneged on their pledge to accept the apex court’s verdict as previously agreed at the onset of proceedings of the Panama leaks case. And the manner in which the PML-N has been berating the bench that delivered the verdict is deeply disturbing.
Mr Sharif’s legal team has already challenged his July 28th disqualification by filing three separate review petitions, and the court’s direction to NAB to file references against him and his children. His legal team has given 19 reasons in the review petitions on the basis of which they believe Mr Sharif should not have been disqualified. Apart from the review petitions, legal experts believe that the top court has inherent powers to revisit any of its judgments, including the ones decided under Article 184. Chances of the ruling party gaining the support of major opposition parties such as the PPP and the PTI appear bleak at this point in time.
There are also a few clauses in Article 62 and Article 63 which could be amended or at least elaborated for clarity. And even the country’s top judges have drawn the attention of parliament to these matters. Had these amendments been tabled long before last month’s judgment, the incumbent government would perhaps have succeeded in garnering the support of other parties. Ironically, it was Mr Sharif who opposed any changes to Articles 62 and 63. His party should now wait for a more opportune time if it is really serious in introducing these amendments.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 18th, 2017.
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