Accountability for all

Editorial Board
Monday, May 20, 2024

Addressing the PML-N’s central working committee (CWC) meeting in Lahore on Saturday, Mian Nawaz Sharif called for the accountability of those who ruined and destroyed Pakistan. The PML-N leader made it a point to say that he had followed democratic traditions back in 2013 and asked the PTI to form a government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa because it was the single largest party despite Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s warning that he was making a mistake. Not holding back, Nawaz also said that he went to Banigala to ask PTI founding chairman Imran Khan to work together for the country, adding that Imran had apparently agreed to cooperate and then backstabbed him by starting his 126-day dharna after a meeting in London. Recounting the persecution he and his daughter went through, Nawaz also alleged that he had an audio recording of former chief justice Saqib Nisar saying that Nawaz Sharif and Maryam have to be kept in jail so that Imran Khan could be brought to power. The PML-N supremo also questioned how three judges could disqualify an elected prime minister for life and then also give a decree that he could not hold an official position in his own party.

These not-so-new allegations by Nawaz Sharif are a reminder of how conspiracies are hatched in the power corridors against elected governments and how the country pays the price at the end for political experiments. It must be said that a country is not a laboratory where experiments are conducted just because of power grabs. A democracy cannot function like this. Democracies thrive on good governance, the power of the ballot, accountability, justice, freedoms and fundamental rights. When these things are snatched away, we are left with strange hybrid models – democracies without rights and disenfranchisement of voters.

This is a lesson for all political parties. When politicians choose a shortcut to get into power and do not respect the mandate of the people and are not bothered that justice is not being dispensed only because their opponents are on the receiving end, it starts a cycle that will not end unless all political actors decide to push back. This is exactly what we saw in the 1990s and we have said it ad nauseum that the Charter of Democracy (CoD) signed between (late) Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif was a revolutionary document that strengthened democracy in the long run. It was only because another political player decided to be used by the powerful quarters that it was made redundant and now we are stuck with a hybrid system that has made all political parties compromise on their principles. This is why it would be good for the PTI to pay heed to what Nawaz Sharif said and what observers have been pointing out for a long time now: do not be part of any such games, and make sure that accountability takes place of all those who were involved in such nefarious activities. This plea for justice and accountability would resonate deeply with many who have observed the turbulent political landscape of Pakistan over the years. Nawaz Sharif’s words carry weight not only due to his personal experiences but also because they reflect broader concerns about the integrity and impartiality of the country’s justice system and the challenges faced by political leaders in navigating Pakistan’s complex political terrain. Moving forward, our mantra should be: the process of accountability should apply universally, without exception. This is essential in a country like Pakistan where power struggles and legal battles often overshadow governance and progress. It is only when politicians are united that there will be a pushback. Democracy demands accountability. Only by upholding the principles of justice and fairness can Pakistan truly progress towards a more stable and prosperous future for all its citizens. As the nation navigates its path forward, it must embrace a commitment to accountability and transparency at all levels of governance, including within the judiciary.