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Petition dismissed

Updated January 23, 2019

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DURING the past couple of years, there have been a number of high-profile cases and landmark judgements that have set important precedents redefining the meaning of moral probity in public life.

On Monday, the Islamabad High Court did the same, not through a verdict but by dismissing a petition asking that Prime Minister Imran Khan be disqualified for concealing his alleged parentage of a child born out of wedlock.

The two-judge division bench admonished the petitioner, a habitual litigant who happens to be the spokesman of the Lal Masjid-affiliated Shuhada Foundation, for neither understanding the law nor Islamic teachings about respecting privacy. IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah also warned him that he would be fined if he continued to file frivolous litigation that wasted the resources of an already overburdened judiciary.

It is high time that a line was drawn under this matter.

Read more: Pakistan is yet to differentiate between sin and crime

Over the years, it has repeatedly been dredged up by those seeking to embarrass and malign Mr Khan, and has probably also caused distress to the young lady in question.

No doubt, the current premier sometimes adopts gratingly sanctimonious airs, but those who take issue with his politics must counterattack on those grounds alone.

Whether the allegation in the petition is true or not is immaterial. Everyone has the right to a private existence and a reasonable expectation that information of a personal nature will not be politicised to score cheap points.

There is in conservative societies a strong tendency to stand in moral judgement on others, and politicians are after all a reflection of the society to which they belong.

The court has rightly drawn a distinction between public and private life. Many a skeleton undoubtedly rattles in the cupboards of our public functionaries.

However, as long as this baggage does not violate the public trust, or impinge on the individuals’ ability to carry out their responsibilities, or contribute to a hostile work environment for colleagues, the public should look the other way.

Published in Dawn, January 23rd, 2019