- Young PPP chief calls NAP ‘Noon-league action plan’
- Says judges alone selecting judges not conducive for promotion of bench with judges of divergent world views
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Monday made clear his various issues with the policies of Pakistan and laid out a robust list for reformation.
He called for revisiting the procedure for the appointment of judges, the setting up of a Constitution Court, regulating the use of suo moto powers, provision of speedy and inexpensive justice, legislation to prevent misuse of blasphemy law, and ending the culture of sacred cows in fighting corruption.
In a wide-ranging address to the Lahore High Court Bar Association covering issues in democracy, constitutionalism, and rule of law, he also addressed issues with the National Action Plan, describing it as “Noon League action plan” and said that it had failed in stopping banned outfits from resurrecting under other names.
“I urge you to give a thought to whether the independence of the judiciary is guaranteed by vesting the power to appoint judges by the judges alone or is it best served when the power to appoint judges is diffused between the Parliament, the president, the prime minister and the bar council?” he asked the galaxy of lawyers present at the Bar address Monday.
He said that the restoration of the judiciary in March 2009 was a result of public demonstrations. The events created a sort of euphoria that led some to believe that a new era of an independent judiciary had dawned, but some people thought otherwise, he said.
He said that during 2010-13 the Judicial Commission (JC) made 126 nominations for Supreme Court judges and the five high courts, while the Parliamentary Committee (PC) disagreed with only eight appointments. However, the court overturned all the decisions of the Parliamentary Committee. Judges alone selecting judges was not conducive for the promotion of a bench with judges of divergent world views on issues in jurisprudence.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also called for the setting up of Constitution Court with equal representation of all federating unites to decide constitutional issues saying that it was unfinished agenda of the Charter of Democracy signed in May 2006 between his mother Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif on behalf of their parties.
About corruption, he said that it was a serious issue and needed to be tackled but cautioned against using it as a brush to paint black only one section of society. We must challenge the double standard in pursuing corruption cases, he said, adding that we cannot win the fight against corruption unless we do away with sacred cows syndrome.”
He said that the PPP was deeply concerned and condemned the growing misuse of blasphemy law for silencing dissent and for oppressing minorities and welcomed the recent Supreme Court verdict and its call for looking into this issue. He expressed the hope that the Parliament will take note of the Supreme Court verdict and make appropriate legislation to prevent the misuse of the blasphemy law.
He questioned whether the government was sincere in implementing the National Action Pan to fight militancy and extremism. He said that the APS martyrs had united the nation, which was in disarray as many asked whether the war against militancy was our war or not. The Punjab chief minister even asked the Taliban to spare his province because he shared their worldview and some demanded that the Taliban be allowed to open offices in Peshawar.
He said that the National Action Plan was in fact Noon League Action Plan as it followed the agenda of Noon League and not the national agenda. Banned organizations continue to function under other names he said and quoted from replies given to questions asked in the Parliament to prove his point.
He called upon the government to abandon the policy of running with the hare and hunting with the hound in dealing with militants and militant organizations.