Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification is a victory for justice and accountability, but Jahangir Tareen’s is not? Hypocritical much, Imran Khan?

Published: December 20, 2017
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Imran Khan gestures to supporters at the anti-government rally in Islamabad. PHOTO: AFP

For years, privilege and accountability have been castrated very separately, not appearing together very often. But in recent months, the tide has changed. From the disqualification of Pakistan’s majority-elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, to the recent outcasting of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) bigwig Jahangir Khan Tareen, accountability is seeping deep into our political system.

The populace of Pakistan has struggled and strived for the establishment of fair justice, one that was once considered a pipe dream, but for many, the waves are finally crashing, and it seems they are not very favourable for those in or aspiring for power.

Several months ago, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Hanif Abbasi filed a petition against claimants of insaf (justice), PTI Chairman Imran Khan and Secretary General Jahangir Tareen. After hearings ranging several months, the judges disqualified Tareen and buried the case of Imran. This was followed by an uproar by all parties terming this decision a balancing act, with the government putting on a front of balancing the disqualification of Nawaz, whilst the PTI  placing their critique upon the doctrine of balancing, with regards to the decision in favour of Imran.

And therein lays our greatest problem.

Our political parties are infested with such great self-interest and personal gain that they refuse to acknowledge their wrongdoings, basing their faults upon technicalities. Following the Nawaz iqama decision, the entire narrative was built against this technicality, which was consistently thwarted by opposition parties, specifically PTI. With all its valour and glory, PTI preached for justice, equality and the true representation of accountability, yet as soon as they were served justice, their yelps of disapproval arose like igniting flames, exposing the hypocritical political practices we have accumulated.

Tareen is a renowned businessman and one of the wealthiest people in Pakistan. His acceptance of crimes such as insider trading, evading agricultural income tax, and misrepresentation of assets did not become a source of his disqualification, but it was merely a technical error in a trust deed that led to his ultimate doom – or so he claims in his tweet right after the judgment.

This was very similar to the narrative adopted by the PML-N after Nawaz’s disqualification. However, the judgment was followed by Imran’s encouragement for Tareen to stay on as Secretary General of the party, owing to the new amendment that permits disqualified people to hold office – an amendment duly criticised by the PTI.

Yet, this very amendment could have become a saviour for Tareen. Despite Imran’s insistence, Tareen proceeded to render his resignation, an act hailed and brought to massive accolade by the PTI leader, on accounts of possessing moral authority. And thus, the paradox piqued.

In a recent interview, Imran was questioned about the similarities between Nawaz and Tareen’s disqualification, and the only reply he was able to muster was that of their statures; Nawaz being the greatest criminal in Pakistan’s history, while Tareen was merely a successful businessman, Imran’s words in precision.

I have been a strong proponent of numerous policies that Imran propagates, yet this is one perspective I just cannot assimilate. Since its conception, PTI has been against double standards, misuse of power, illegal activities and has literally tasked itself as the universal moral police. Perhaps, one of the major defence of Imran’s injection of tried and tested politicians into PTI was the fact that if suspicions rose, they would be dealt through the proper channel, that is the judiciary.

Nevertheless, today we witness exactly how lust for power alters a person. There is no saying that Imran has changed. In the current political climate, I feel there is no better option than him, yet he is no longer the Imran of glory, nobility and grace. He is now the man who stands for the Tareens, the Chaudhrys, the Khars, the Awans, the Jatois, and the list is endless. He is the Imran who is more determined to fish for electables, vying to cash this glowering opportunity for the upcoming general elections, than the Imran who heaped his strength upon accountability. For ideological supporters like many of us, it is heart-breaking and disappointing to witness the morals and ideals of PTI go to waste.

PTI has had the toughest struggles in terms of not being able to bag many seats. Yet, Imran persisted. He was adamant not to falter until the massive rally held in October 2011 that turned the tables. To this day, I regret the moment electables spaced into the party. What was envisioned as the podium of change, the platform for youth, the vision of idealists, slowly churned into a disaster.

Tareen was indeed a great worker for the party; his contributions both in terms of intellect and finances were great. But he was not the face of PTI that many of us were looking for. When Imran talked of offshore companies, one simply could not forget Tareen’s. He was a contradiction of the ideology PTI stood for in 1996. Yet, it was not Imran who sacrificed Tareen for his country, it was the judiciary. And that is perhaps our most harrowing grief.

As we pay our regards to the respectable judges for the historic decisions they have been taking these past couple of months, it is imperative that we hold our leadership accountable, be it Nawaz, Bilawal Bhutto/Asif Ali Zardari or Imran, they have all failed to stand up for their country. But the most astonishing of them all has been Imran’s response. He was one man who we all expected to side with truth, irrespective of where it came from, and who it was against, but he proved to us that the judicial tide may have risen, however, the political one is barely simmering.

The Imran I know of and respect is beyond political affiliations and personal interest; he is the man who gave up everything, his family, his wealth and his time to bring about what he envisaged as true ‘tabdeeli’. As an ideological PTI supporter, I can only pray and hope that Imran sees sense soon, for if he does not, yet another political force is up to be auctioned for the past poli-tricks that have pushed Pakistan into a dark abyss of doom and despair. And when that happens, we can only wish upon the stars for a miracle.

Pakistan Paindabad!

Oroba Tasnim

Oroba Tasnim

A visionary donning idealism, a revolutionary seeking reprieve. She tweets @OrobaTasnim (twitter.com/OrobaTasnim)

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