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EDITORIAL: Since the mysterious “threat letter” has become so central to Pakistani politics that its set to dominate the next election campaign, perhaps it’s best if the chief justice of Pakistan accepts President Arif Alvi’s request to hold an open investigation into it through an “empowered judicial commission”; to put this matter to rest if for nothing else.

Granted, the commission would have to consult the same institutions that have already very clearly delivered their verdicts on it, but it will still carry far greater legitimacy. And, especially if it agrees with earlier findings that the international conspiracy that PTI (Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf) alleged did not exist, no particular party would be able to dispute the historic no-confidence proceedings of last month.

It must not be forgotten that the original charge was about a conspiracy, hatched in the US, which involved payoffs to opposition politicians of the time to de-seat the then PM, Imran Khan. That meant, going by PTI’s logic, that not only did the Americans want Imran gone but also spent good money to buy votes against him.

And that all this was confirmed by that letter. Surely, it understands that the judicial inquiry it’s asking for will need more proof than simply putting two and two together on one’s own. Because if it has such proof, or even a more compelling argument than the one used at its public rallies, then it didn’t bother to share it with the military or the foreign office, because neither has been able to find anything in the letter to confirm Imran’s accusation.

The last few days and weeks have also seen disagreements between different segments of society about meanings and implications of the words ‘interference’ and ‘conspiracy’.

Nobody expects the US not to interfere in the affairs of other countries and other regions, especially one where it just wound up the longest war in its own history and is now concerned about the aftermath.

But to imply that on this occasion such interference extended to actually bankrolling the first-ever successful no-confidence motion in Pakistan’s parliament against a prime minister seems such an obvious stretch of the imagination that even fierce critics of US interference like Noam Chomsky have laughed it away. Yet Imran remains defiant and his legions of followers refuse to budge an inch until a judicial commission tells it like it is.

“The people of Pakistan deserve clarity,” President Alvi very rightly said in his letter to the chief justice. Yet the people also deserve honesty and the kind of sincerity from their leaders that the latter usually associate with their careers and positions.

And they definitely don’t deserve to become cannon fodder in needless confrontations between political parties and politicians. Yet what has happened since the no-confidence motion was tabled is just that.

The letter was just one of the things that Imran pulled out of his hat when he became desperate; others included previously denied ministries and privileges for allies, etc. And now it’s formed the basis for his main narrative of “traitors” and “Mir Jafars” for anybody and everybody who doesn’t agree with him. PML-N, on the other hand, talks about investigating it like it’s already reached a conclusion, which is also quite improper.

Therefore, the best thing to do is to give this matter the highest attention and scrutiny it can possibly get.

It has already polarised our society, poisoned our politics and strained our relations with Washington just when we need its goodwill to keep donor-funded programms going. And if it will take a high-level judicial commission to conduct an open hearing to finally bring much-needed closure to this business, then so be it.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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