With most of the leading opposition leaders in jail now for corruption, nepotism, money-laundering, and even drug smuggling, etc, the second and third tier party leaders are taking the stage. With this the resultant tenor is becoming rougher and more. With no hope of the masses turning out in numbers in the streets, other means are being used to keep the pot boiling in the “abba-bachao” (save father) movement. The infamous press conference of PML(N) “vice president” and “aspirant star” on the political horizon, Maryam Nawaz, is the latest example for that. When her father was in power she used to create information havoc in a 300 plus strong sound media team. In the “DAWN LEAKS” attempt to undermine the than Opposition and their drive for accountability. Maryam only got away with her “Dirty Tricks” (DTs) by the sacrificing of others like Fatemi, Pervaiz Rashid and Rao Tehseen’s etc.
It is a crime to make videos secretly for which all involved should be punished. The obviously forged video is meant to show that under pressure from the government Accountability Court Judge Arshad Malik had convicted Nawaz Sharif in the Al Azizia steel mill corruption case though her father was as innocent as a new-born baby. The purpose of such an attempt was not only to whitewash her father but to undermine the creditability of Judge Malik, the judiciary and the accountability process as such. It fits into the declared aim of both the opposition parties the leader of which are both in jail and to undermine and hopefully topple the government of Imran Khan so as to save the political future of PML.
There are several questions coming up in this connection. Efforts to save the father and if not to bring herself into the political limelight are only the peak of the iceberg. What we are seeing here is an effort to undermine the stability of our country and its government that is trying to tackle the economic, financial and political crisis that we inherited from the previous rulers. In addition, this current effort is made by a person who is a proven forger, perjurer and manipulator! Just remember the “font case”, this investigation goes back to the 2016 Panama Papers leak which revealed details of customers using a law firm to handle offshore accounts. The children of the then Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif were among those customers, and they showed holdings that the Sharif family had failed to publicly declare. The country’s Supreme Court (SC) ordered investigators to look into the documents submitted by Maryam Nawaz. After scrutinizing those documents that were dated 2006 it turned out that they were typed in the Calibri font – despite the fact that Calibri wasn’t commercially available until 2007. Thus the question arises why a person whose forgery had been proven before is allowed space to keep launching documents without prior scrutiny?
This is a question that has to be asked from the media. Why do TV channels in Pakistan air a video submitted by a person with a relevant criminal record without proper scrutiny? The questionable video seems to have been aired not by one or two but by 21 channels! And TV channels do have the technical equipment to do the scrutiny since they are producing (and manipulating?) videos themselves! And everybody knows how it is done – latest since 9/11 when US TV channels were airing a video showing Palestinians dancing in the street allegedly celebrating the murder of so many people. It turned out later that the video had been taken in a different connection. The media that should be neutral in their position in this way are taking the side of the producer of the video, they are thus acting against their professional ethos and the legal basis of their license. This case should not go without consequence for them.
The central person of the video – Justice Arshad Malik immediately after the publication of the allegations has denied the allegations made and the validity of the video even if Maryam Nawaz seems not to be able to understand this. He clearly said in what has been reported in the print media that he has met the person concerned who is a personal friend of his multiple times and that the video is a montage of different meetings while the underlying audio is taken out of context as well. He denied to have been pressurized and added that if that was the case he could have convicted Nawaz Sharif in all cases regardless of evidence. But he didn’t do that. He only convicted him in the case which had enough evidence to prove the offense. Maligning a sitting judge to be susceptible to blackmail is not only personally offending him and his family but the institution he is representing as well. He rightly demands punishment for the offender.
The government has announced that a forensic audit of the video clip will be initiated so as to prove or disprove the veracity of the allegations based on the clip. And the outcome is quite foreseeable. But if proven false the initiator of this scam should be taken to justice this time. It can’t be that lying, cheating and forging documents is legally permissible or just considered a minor offense. The ethical dimension of this case has to be considered as well. If liars and cheaters are exempted by the law and the society what kind of example is given to the rest of our people, especially to the younger generation? We have referred to the ethical dimension before in the discussion about § 62 and 63 of the Constitution when we demanded a close relationship between ethical and legal offenses and their political consequences. This is another such case. People of questionable ethics should not be allowed to represent Pakistan and Pakistanis. That should apply not only to the position of PM of Pakistan but to parliamentarians as well. Even if elected when the offense was not yet known or proven, when proven the offenders should not lose their seats in parliament but also the benefits they enjoy as the elite of the State. Those who make secret video to air them in public should never be allowed never any public office, the criminal involved need to go to jail, better late than never! Only then things can improve in Pakistan.
The writer is a defense and security analyst.