The much-anticipated verdict regarding a petition to disqualify Imran Khan was released by the Supreme Court (SC) on the afternoon of Friday 15th December. The delay in the release was apparently caused by a typographical error necessitating a re-check of the entire document. The SC has ruled that Khan was not liable to declare Niazi Services Limited in his 2013 nomination papers because he was not a shareholder. The SC was not inclined in the direction of Jahangir Tareen and he is disqualified for life from political office. The aspect of the case that was concerned with foreign funding has been referred to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and it may be months before there is a finding either way.
Thus ends — for now — a case that has captivated a narrow spectrum of the population, the majority of which was either unaware of the ramifications and/or cared not a hoot if they were. Both of the defendants, one acquitted and the other not will now have their endless say across every conceivable media platform and the end result is that the status quo remains undisturbed politically. The PTI gets to keep its head; whilst Tareen loses his to be mourned in the very short term as the bandwagon rolls on, a minus-one solution.
All that said there is one issue that is going to remain in the public mind and the minds of politicians both aspirant and established. What is declared on the mandatory statement of assets form that is required by the ECP is vital. If, and there are now going to be some very beady-eyed observers in the Fourth Estate, there is any incongruity between what is stated on the form and what is apparent ‘on the ground’ then that incongruity may find its way to the SC, and the law will take its course. In that sense the case may be seen as adding to at least the possibility of greater transparency, and may act as a deterrent those seeking to deceive the electorate. Tomorrow it is business as usual, and any number of lawyers will be reviewing their bank balances.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 16th, 2017.
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