The PTI’s much-vaunted three-and-a-half-year sheen of moral rectitude and high ethical standards is losing its shine with embarrassing rapidity. But heaven forbid that this slide is troubling the acolytes of the Kaptaan – they remain as firmly wedded to his greatness as the Roman Catholics of an earlier age stoutly believed in papal infallibility!
Therefore, any mortification at revelations of the PTI government’s foibles is only being experienced by those persons who have not sacrificed their rational thought processes at the altar of the Colossus of Bani Gala and who are pained by the incalculable harm caused to the nation’s interest, prestige and its moral fibre by some of the egregious decisions taken by the former prime minister and his team.
One such decision pertains to the reference which was filed against the current senior-most judge of the Supreme Court, Justice Qazi Faez Isa. For over two years, the honourable judge and his wife faced a vicious witch-hunt with courage and dignity. They stood firm with conviction of purpose, buoyed by the rightness of their cause, while the PTI government spared no effort to subject them to a pernicious media trial and to drag their name through mud on social media.
In the end, truth and justice prevailed: at first the Supreme Court quashed the reference; and at the review stage it handed down a historic victory to Justice Isa and his wife and nullified all further proceedings against them in the matter.
However, true to form, the PTI government remained unfazed by this resounding judicial defeat. Far from any introspection taking place, leave alone the resignations of then Law Minister Farogh Naseem and Accountability Czar Shahzad Akbar for their instrumental role in devising the malafide reference, the government took the quashment in its stride, like water off a duck’s back. Further, with brazen audacity it even sought a curative review of the Supreme Court’s order, guided no doubt by their burning desire to ensure full and final “justice” in the case, as befits the nation’s standard-bearer of Insaf.
Horror of horrors to now hear from the Man that it was a mistake to have filed the reference against Justice Isa! A mistake! Is that all there is to it? Is it sufficient for a former prime minister to simply wash off all responsibility for a failed attempt to get rid of an independent-minded judge simply by stating that it was a mistake? Are we talking of child’s play or the elementary requirements of prime-ministerial governance?
It is mind-boggling to see the casual and cursory way in which the Khan has belatedly dealt with this grave issue. A moot question is: why has this admission been made one year after the Supreme Court’s decision in the review petition filed by Justice Isa? Did it take this long for the realisation to sink into the former prime minister’s mind? Or is he now trying to muddy the waters in the public’s mind by giving the impression that the judiciary ruled against his unconstitutional actions of 03 April because he had antagonised them by the reference against Justice Isa?
I would not put it past the Kaptaan to be actuated by the latter consideration, so as to obfuscate the core issue, namely that his gross constitutional violation of April 3rd was struck down by the Supreme Court on merits and not because of any supposed animus of the court against him because of the reference against Justice Isa.
A simple question for the Kaptaan: does the concept of expiation for the mistake figure in his mind? Or at his exalted level is he above atonement for any mistake? If he had really possessed a sense of accountability and justice and fair-play, should he not have made amends back in April 2021, when the review petition was squarely decided in favour of Justice Isa? At the very least he should then have sacked those key advisors who had been responsible for misguiding him to make the mistake.
And even now, should not Imran Khan at the very least offer a contrite apology, ideally in person, to the judge and his wife for all the pain, suffering and reputational loss which they unjustifiably suffered as a result of his mistake?
Further, has the Man considered the havoc that has been wrought by his mistake in other directions? What about the substantial time and money wasted by the government on preparing and prosecuting the reference? Who will account for that criminal squandering of scarce resources? What of the immense time that the Supreme Court had to devote to hearing the original reference as well as the review petition, and to hand down two detailed judgments in the matter? Was this not an immense burden on the court’s over-stretched resources? Could not the court’s precious time have been much better spent hearing the cases of ordinary litigants? Is there a reckoning for this serious loss of the court’s time because of a mistake?
And has our latter-day freedom fighter against alleged foreign interference considered the grievous harm that his mistake inflicted upon the public image of the apex court, and the unnecessary friction and discord that it engendered among its judges? Did his action strengthen the independence of the judiciary or was it designed to embroil it in a bitter controversy? Actions speak louder than words!
But as far as the Khan’s book is concerned, I am certain that the answers to all of my rhetorical questions above will be in the negative. No doubt he believes that a banal admission of his mistake suffices and it is now time for him to move on to new vistas.
Similarly, the good doctor in Aiwan-e-Sadr is no doubt equally unperturbed by the fact that it was with his ever obliging and unquestioning signatures that the specious reference was promptly filed in the first place. I am sure he enjoys a restful sleep each night, oblivious to the fact that by not scrutinizing the reference on merits and advising against such an ill-considered move, he failed in his constitutional duty and simply acted as a rubber-stamp. Grounds for impeachment?
Finally, will the Kaptaan also enlighten the nation as to why he committed the mistake? Or is he saving that critical information for a later day, when he can use it for his own political ends? The nation awaits the truth with bated breath.
Meanwhile the very apt words of Sir Walter Scott ring out loud and clear, “O, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!”