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SC verdict didn’t address real issues: experts

October 21, 2012

The image shows a judge’s hammer. — File photo

ISLAMABAD, Oct 21: The Supreme Court verdict, which censured former army chief Aslam Beg and former head of ISI Asad Durrani for rigging the 1990 elections and directed the PPP government to investigate the politicians named in the scam through the Federal Investigation Agency, has divided public opinion across the country and independent political observers and neutral legal experts are of the opinion that coming days may witness an intensification in political polarisation.

More specifically, they said, the ruling PPP and the opposition PML-N would get involved in further mudslinging as was witnessed on Sunday when Leader of Opposition Chaudhry Nisar lashed out at the PPP and Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf continued his tirade which he launched against the PML-N immediately after the Supreme Court verdict.

They also criticised the judgment which, according to them, had pitted the two major political parties against each other, instead of addressing the real issue of military’s repeated interferences in politics.

“For me which politician got how much money back in 1990 is a secondary issue at the moment. The real issue is that no such incident should happen again which unfortunately is being ignored and politicians have started point scoring against each other,” commented columnist I.A. Rehman.

He said that all over the world politicians learned from their past experiences and moved ahead by setting up truth and reconciliation commissions, but unfortunately after this court judgment it seemed they were returning back to the 90s. They (politicians) should have reacted sensibly.

In response to a question, Mr Rehman said much of the facts relating to the ISI distributing funds among politicians had already been established in the court regardless of the fact which politician got what, and new investigations would only create political bitterness.

Justice (retd) Tariq Mehmood was more specific when he referred to the paragraph 14 of the judgment in which the court had directed the FIA to collect evidence against politicians who had allegedly received donations to spend on election campaign but, “according to my understanding the FIA has no such mandate”. It’s confusing, he said.

Justice Tariq said that while the SC in paragraph 13 of the ruling detailed how a wrong had been committed in the 1990 election, it asked the federal government to take necessary steps under the Constitution and law against the guilty parties.

“It means the nature of offences that were committed by different parties are yet to be determined, then how come the court can straightway direct the FIA to carry out investigations,” said Mr Tariq.

When his attention was drawn to PML-N’s reservations over the SC directive over investigation by the FIA, he said that as the aggrieved party its leadership could approach the court and seek its review.

Saddened by the acrimony generated by the judgment, Justice Tariq said if sense didn’t prevail among the quarters concerned and they only used it to settle political scores against each other the country was set for a bitter political bickering in coming weeks.

Asad Jamal, another legal expert, said: “Ideally speaking the court should have asked the government to take up the issue in parliament and decide it once for all and should lay down broader principles that such bad practices are not repeated.”

However, he said, with the court specifically asking the PPP-led government to use the FIA for investigation against PML-N leaders was sure to create a lot of political heat.

“Who doesn’t know that the two parties are against each other and any such ruling will have major political repercussions which could also hurt democracy in the end,” Mr Asad said.