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Analysis: Panama case verdict and after by  Ansar Mahmood Bhatti

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on April 20 finally announced verdict in Panama case after keeping it reserved for 57 days. The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) has been formed, which will present its report in 60 days. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif narrowly escaped a disqualification, which indeed should be a matter of rejoice for the ruling party. And quite rightly, after the pronouncement of the decision, the PML N leaders expressed jimjams by hugging and extending greetings to one another. In the Prime Minister House too, similar scenes were witnessed. Perhaps PML N leaders and supporters have every reason to celebrate this decision because it has saved them from a big causality i.e the disqualification of the prime minister.

The judgment was a split decision three judges favoring constitution of the Commission and two saying outright that the prime minister should be disqualified. The senior most judge of the apex court and the future Chief Justice of Pakistan Mr. Justice Asif Saeed Khosa was one of the judges who wrote a dissenting note that the prime minister should be disqualified. Technically all five judges have rejected the defence presented by the prime minster and his family so when it comes to formation of the Commission of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) all five judges are unanimous. The difference is this that two of them wanted prime minister to be disqualified perhaps in order to ensure transparent investigations but the rest of the three did not seem eye to eye with the preposition of their two fellow judges and opined a JIT may be a proper forum to determine whether he is Sadik and Ameen or not.

Meanwhile both PTI and the PPP have asked the prime minister to step down till the time the JIT completes its report. Political analysts say, the court verdict may also bring both PPP and PTI closer and they may launch joint struggle against the government. PPP has unequivocally rejected the Supreme Court decision terming it “frivolous”.

Regarding constitution of the JIT, people are not very much hopeful of any outcome, at least in near future and within the timeframe stipulated in the court order. However since the five member bench of the Supreme Court shall be monitoring the JIT working and taking reports on  fortnightly basis therefore it is expected that this JIT report shall be different to that of ones prepared in the past. Especially, the two judges that ruled against the prime minister, would make sure this report is ready in 60 days because only then their ruling/judgment that the sitting prime minister is not Sadik and Ameen and therefore has no right to stay as prime minister, shall stand vindicated.

The Chief Justice shall now form a new bench that would take up this matter now, which means the incumbent bench shall stand dissolved.

(Detailed analysis to appear in the coming issue of Centreline)

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