The air of anticipation hanging over the courtroom no.1 of the Supreme Court was so thick on Thursday that it could be cut with a knife. Opposition politicians and government ministers started arriving here right after 1 o’clock, looking for seats that offered the best view. The courtroom was swarming with lawyers – young and old – as they elbowed political workers and journalists for space, even in the corners allocated for print media. Jahangir Tareen arrived much earlier than Imran Khan and sat with Aleem Khan. Anusha Rehman, the Minister for IT & Telecom, was shepherded by party loyalists to a front-seat, where she sat pensively for under half an hour before the verdict announcement. Ahsan Iqbal and Khawaja Asif sat a few rows behind. But it was Daniyal Aziz whose demeanor best reflected the ruling party’s mood. Daniyal stood on the left corner of the court, chewing a bubble gum in a nonchalant manner. An obsequious lawyer, who was standing nearby, turned to the brash and vocal lawmaker and said, “You have lost weight. Have you started going to the gym?” Daniyal looked at the lawyer rather dismissively and said “No. It’s the same.” “You were smart earlier also, but now you have become smarter,” the lawyer continued. “Not at all. We can’t spoil the name of the Motu Gang,” Daniyal said, as others around him joined in the cackle.
The justices arrived at their seats as the clock struck 2 o’clock. Before reading the order, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa asked those present in the court to respect the decorum and express their reactions outside the court. Justice Khosa said there was a 3-2 split in the verdict and said he and Justice Gulzar Ahmed were among the dissenters. It wasn’t a surprise as, during the court hearings, Justice Khosa had made several remarks that clearly showed his disbelief into the proofs cited by the lawyers of the prime minister. There were no loud gasps or murmurs when Justice Khosa read the first part of the order, detailing the formation of a Joint Investigation Team to probe the ruling family’s financial matters. It was the later part when he read out his dissenting note, stating that the prime minister had failed to provide ample evidence and had been dishonest not only to the court but also to the nation that a loud collective whisper erupted in the courtroom. The supporters of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf wanted to hear it as the primary verdict and were immediately disappointed when they realized that the majority decision ruled out the removal of the prime minister from office. Imran Khan sprang up from his seat and left the courtroom quickly, as the rest of his party members leaped after him. “Anything short of a disqualification is a victory for us,” said a lawyer, ostensibly a PML-N supporter, loudly as he rushed towards the exit door.
At the doorsteps of the Supreme Court’s entrance, there were already shouts of victory by the supporters of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. Imran Khan and other PTI leaders quickly slunk out of the court premises, evading the bevy of mics and cameras. Naeem Bokhari, the counsel for Imran Khan, who once famously remarked that lawyers never lose a case, only clients do, was also in a hurry to leave. “In the country’s history, such questions and remarks have never been given about a prime minister, like the ones given regarding this prime minister,” Bokhari said when asked if the court verdict was a defeat of his party before the court. He was wearing sunshades, like most PTI leaders, but had taken off his black lawyer’s jacket. “If they have any ounce of shame, they should leave for Anatolia,” he said with a laugh, referring to the Sharifs.