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Changing Political Equations in Pakistan

Posted in Featured, View Point

Published on September 22, 2023 with No Comments

Supreme Court of Pakistan has delivered a stunning blow to politicians by striking down sections of NAB law amendments. The Supreme Court in a majority decision has allowed ex-prime minister Imran Khan’s petition challenging amendments made to the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999 by the PDM-led government during its tenure, and ordered the restoration of corruption cases against public office holders that were withdrawn following the tweaks.

With this decision about 2000 graft cases are expected to be restored. Out of these 2000 cases, 755 were returned at the inquiry stage and 292 at the investigation stage. Around 510 cases were of less than PKR 500 million and 168 cases pertained to assets beyond known source of income. Similarly, 213 cases stand restored as per Section 9A, while 89 cases are related to fraud. These cases, which were closed down following the amendments, will now be restored as the court declared the amendments void. The three-member bench, headed by CJP Umar Ata Bandial, and comprising Justice Mansoor Ali Shah and Justice Ijazul Ahsan, held more than 50 hearings on PTI chief Khan’s petition against the amendments and reserved the judgment on the hearing on September 5. These include the Toshakhana reference against Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Supremo Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan Peoples Party Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari and former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, along with the LNG reference against former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and the rental power reference against former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf.  Additionally, the court directed the NAB to return all records related to cases to relevant courts within seven days. The decision also strikes down changes in definition of assets beyond means and “benami” properties. The judgement came on the last workday of Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial’s tenure. A total of 53 hearing were held in the case.

These decision by Pakistan’s Supreme Court has changed the political equation in Pakistan. The majority judgement is being considered a setback for major parties especially PML-N and PPP leadership whose cases will be revived. Whereas, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) cheering it as a prelude to justice against corruption. As not only politicians but also persons in the service of Pakistan may still be investigated and prosecuted under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947 for the offences listed in Section 9a(i-v) of the NAB Ordinance. At the same time, elected public office holders will not be amenable to the jurisdiction of any other accountability for the offence of corruption and corrupt practices.

With this the Supreme Court had, in fact, ruled that there was no alternative for strong and effective accountability that was beyond all political and excessive alignments and to promote the standard of maximum transparency standard, which we the country had been lacking so far.

Questions are being raised whether former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will return to Pakistan or not as he too faces graft cases. Earlier, it was being presented in media there, that Nawaz Sharif and his party has a better chance to win the parliamentary election whenever they are held. However, if he stays out of Pakistan the chances of his coming back to power is grim; and this gives a better edge to Imran Khan who has been maintaining that he was removed as the Prime Minister in an unconstitutional manner.

The development comes at a time when Pakistan is gearing up for the next general elections which will be held in January amid heightened political, economic, and security crises in the country. Also,  by announcing this verdict on the last day of his tenure, CJP Bandial had drawn a big question mark over the sovereignty of parliament.






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