It’s safe to say that there has been little else discussed on the news as much as the Panama scandal. Unfortunate for our premier, Pakistanis as a race can be as persistent as the proverbial dog with a bone. Perhaps none more so than IK. In principle and in theory, it is indeed a huge deal. A sitting Prime Minister to be accused of money laundering and corruption is no small controversy; perhaps this too we would have been desensitized to, had it not been for the PTI bulldozing.
The verdict has confounded more than it has clarified. Out of the five member bench of SC judges, two have convicted NS of the charges he has been accused of, while the other three have nullified the defense’s evidence and asked for more information through a JIT.
Regardless of PML-N’s posturing, this is not a favourable verdict. Although it is not as conclusive as PTI would have hoped, it is most definitely boding ill for NS. The JIT will proceed and give its verdict after another two weeks. Whether that will be conclusive is anybody’s guess. What does it mean if Nawaz strikes out? Best case scenario is, he steps down as PM and appoints another member of his party to hold the reigns until the upcoming election. Worst case scenario is, anarchy and early elections.
What happens if IK loses this Battle of the Titans? Nothing. Perhaps chaotic rallies and protests. Consequently, Pakistan will go back to sleep resignedly like it was before Imran so rudely awoke it to dream an impossible dream. Accountability for leaders? In Pakistan? And pigs fly.
Regardless of the verdict and on a graver note, the incredible service Imran Khan has done, Pakistan is unquantifiable. It was unheard of to expect the kind of accountability that is taking place today. For the accountable to be the sitting Prime Minister is beyond belief.
It has most definitely set the precedent and tone for all leaders: that no one is above the law. Leaders like Nawaz, Zardari, Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman etc. will all have to think twice before dipping into our already waning coffers knowing there are sniffer dogs on their tail.
While full of drama, and unnecessary screen-time, the Panama scandal has strengthened and sifted many of our important institutions, to show the nation which branch it can actually expect justice from. The judiciary has stood tall and noble in the face of the controversy, as has our military establishment.
Pakistan in the aftermath, I predict, will have many options to choose from in the upcoming elections. PTI has most likely gained from this taint on PML-N, as has PPP incrementally but perhaps only in Punjab. Sindh is ripe for the picking, the field is clear after PPP’s colossal failure in governance and audacious corruption. Pakistan is at a turning point, and for the first time in our conscious lives, we may have the liberty to shape our own destiny. It is heartening to see the youth rooting for PTI. I only wish that no matter what political leaning they have, the younger generation should galvanize themselves to be part of their country’s future.
Whether you are against the Panama verdict, or for, speak up; if Nawaz Sharif is who you think should lead your country or Imran, speak up. The elections are near and if there is one thing IK has taught us with the Panama scandal is that the status quo can be shaken; the powerful can be brought down, and that there is no voice louder than that of the people.
Elections are coming and I pray that this time, Pakistan makes an informed decision