By disqualifying Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the Supreme Court has sent a stern message to others, Pakistani media said today, cautioning that overall democratic stakes are greater than any individual and the focus should now be to continue the democratic process.
The apex court yesterday disqualified Sharif for dishonesty and ruled that corruption cases be filed against him and his children over the Panama Papers scandal, forcing the embattled leader out of office.
In an editorial, Pakistan's leading English language daily 'Dawn' said that the brief, emphatic and unanimous judgement struck a blow for accountability and radically altered the political landscape. "A stern message has been sent across the country: declare everything fully and transparently or risk the ultimate sanction. Such a harsh interpretation could be a boon - if it is applied evenly and transparently," the paper wrote.
It said that the apex court has a heavy burden on its shoulders and an expectant country will await the fair and even-handed implementation of the new standard.
Another leading English language 'The Express Tribune' in its editorial said the process of accountability, beginning with the disqualification of the 67-old-premier, must cast its net wider and be across the board.
"At least, the other characters named in the trove of Panama Papers, no matter which party they belong to, should also be investigated, so that justice is done and seen to have been done," the paper said.
Both the papers suggested the ousted prime minister Sharif and his ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party to accept the verdict and quickly nominate a new prime minister and have the next prime minister elected by the National Assembly, saying any delay would not be in the PML-N's interest and certainly not in the country's.
"Whatever the judicial fate of Sharif, it has always been clear that the overall democratic stakes are greater than any individual’s political future - the focus needing to remain on keeping the democratic project moving forward," Dawn said.
The paper said that the country was in a limbo as there was no government after Sharif resigned.
Another English language daily 'The News International' said that Pakistan needs institutionalised efforts and mechanisms to check corruption in its all institutions. "Only if there are true reforms that stand the test of time can we hope to escape the menace of corruption plaguing us. The Supreme Court could have been a help and an inspiration here," the paper said.
The Dawn also lauded cricketer-turned-politician and Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf party chief Imran Khan, saying, "If it were not for the relentless campaign of Khan and his party, the accountability of elected officials would not likely have been at the centre of the national political discourse."
It said now the aim of Khan and his party must be to widen the accountability project - to expand it to not just all elected officials but all institutions of the state, elected and unelected. The papers also focused on the fact that none of the Prime Minister so far has been able to complete full term since independence in 1947.