In yet another historic decision, the Supreme Court of Pakistan has decided that former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, exiled by Gen. Musharaf, can return to Pakistan. According to The News:
The Supreme Court of Pakistan in a landmark verdict on constitutional petitions of Mian Nawaz Sharif and his brother Mian Shahbaz Sharif, Thursday announced that Sharif Brothers are Pakistanis and can return home and participate in the national politics. The seven-member larger bench of the apex court, led by Chief Justice Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, in a brief judgment said that under Article-15 of the constitution, the petitioners are citizens of Pakistan and therefore their petition is hearable. According to the Supreme Courtâ€™s decision, under Article 3 of the constitution no citizen of the country can be kept outside the country and cannot be stopped from his or her return to home.
The document presented by the government on previous day has no constitutional position. Senior lawyer Fakhruddin G. Ibrahim appeared before the court in the case on behalf of Sharif Brothers. Attorney-General Malik Qayyum, Ahmed Raza Kasuri and Ibrahim Satti were the counsels of the federation. Reacting on the decision, Hamza Shahbaz, son of Nawaz Sharif, talking with Geo News said that the Supreme Courtâ€™s decision is the victory of Nawaz Sharifâ€™s eight-year stand. During these eight years, Sharif Brothers have spent very hard time. He said that this decision is not the victory of any individual but of Pakistan.
The Pakistan Muslim League (N) has welcomed the verdict announced by the larger bench of the Supreme Court. Leader of party Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said that a delegation of his party would soon go to London to determine the procedure of the Sharif Brothersâ€™ returning home. Immediate after the decision, people seemed very enthusiast outside the Supreme Court and thousands of PML (N) workers chanted slogans.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan has, once again, rendered a decision that has not just created a buzz but effectively changed the entire political landscape of Pakistan. The big news here is the potential return of Nawaz Sharif but the continuing big news is that the institutional reincarnation of the Supreme Court of Pakistan which has become which has effectively become what it was meant to be. The final arbiter of constitutional sheninigans by political forces.
This means that unless extraordinary measures are taken by the government, we could be set for a real political showdown in the next elections. What this does to PML(Q) – or for that matter to PML (N) as well as other parties – is to be seen. But heads will already be spinning about which karwatt this oont will eventually settle.
It is also interesting that while all the deal-talk went on between Benazir Bhutto and Pervaiz Musharraf, Nawaz Sharif’s political capital might actually have been expanding. Even if he had stuck to principal just because he could not do otherwise, there are many who have actually found his stand to be ‘principled’ and it is likely that between that and this decision, his political capital has in fact increased… at least in the short term. What remains to be seen is whether he and his party will be able to politically capitalize on this; and how.