The country’s politics has faced a jolt as the Islamabad High Court (IHC) has acquitted PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz and her husband Captain (retd) Safdar in the Avenfield properties corruption reference. The dropping of charges is being termed as vindication of PML-N leadership’s claims that the reference was based on political victimization. It seems that the IHC will also quash the earlier sentence awarded to former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who has been living abroad. Political circles are attributing this extraordinary development to a changed political scenario in the country. It is being presumed by many that the judgment is the result of some kind of a deal with the establishment. However, the sentences have been nullified while a detailed judgment will be issued later. The Sharif family members were given relief because the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) failed to prove their stance in the corruption case. In the case, Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Captain (retd) Safdar had been sentenced 10 years, 7 years and one year imprisonment respectively. Outright punishment awarded to the Sharif family members back in 2018 and now their release has also put a question mark on the justice and accountability system in the country. Opinions in favour and against the ruling continued to pour in from the political circles, legal community and the general public. Soon after the verdict, speculations started about the latest development.
At a time when PML-N supporters are celebrating the verdict, questions are also being raised about the justice system and accountability process in the country. Ostensibly, it is a great setback for the NAB that has failed to prove its credibility. On many occasions, NAB has been accused of conducting selective accountability under the instructions of mighty institutions. There is a pick and choose policy. Moreover, only politicians come under the radar while persons belonging to other powerful institutions like the judiciary and army have never been held accountable for their wrongdoings. In any case the law needs to take its course. It was the responsibility of the NAB to present credible evidence about alleged corruption committed by Nawaz Sharif and his other family members.
There should be transparency and accountability in all walks of life, but it should be across the board irrespective of the rank and affiliation of the perpetrator. All institutions including the army and judiciary should pass through the accountability test to come clean before the public. A one-sided drive targeting only civilians will only yield negative results and lead the country to more chaos. It is a totally wrong perception that only civilians are corrupt and there are no irregularities in other powerful institutions. We can easily find cases of massive corruption committed by senior officials of the establishment and a drive at that end must also be initiated. The political forces should call for an operation that takes action against every corrupt person, irrespective of his position in the state or society. No institution should be immune from the drive of accountability.