PML-N attitude towards judiciary ‘inviting’ army to take over: PPP senator

  • Aitzaz Ahsan Says constitutional limits had been violated when cash envelopes were distributed among participants of Faizabad sit-in
  • Criticises judges for indulging in speeches rather than focussing on verdicts 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Senator Aitzaz Ahsan on Thursday said the language used by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders in their rallies against higher judiciary is akin to an ‘indirect invitation’ to the army for a coup d’état.

In his farewell speech on the floor of the Senate, the outgoing senator, while criticising the ruling party for trying to discredit the judiciary, said: “It is said that the judiciary’s verdicts are penned somewhere else; where are they [verdicts] written when it is their own government?”

He was referring to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz who have launched a campaign against the judiciary since Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification in July 2017.

He said: “Imagine if they [Nawaz, Maryam] can attack the chief justice so openly, what must [the accountability judge] Justice Bashir go through? How much pressure must the court [where the Sharifs are being tried] be in?”

Further criticising the PML-N leadership, he said the party had no qualms about the apex court’s verdict in Hudaibya Papers Mills as it favoured them. While on the other hand, it keeps on bashing the court about the “unfavourable Panama Papers decision”.

Recalling the disqualification of the PPP’s Yousaf Raza Gillani by the SC, he said when the verdict was announced, the PML-N had told the PPP to “obey the Supreme Court’s order and vacate the seat”, which is rather contradictory when compared to its present stance. Now when the Sharifs are under scrutiny themselves, rallies are arranged and people are made to chant slogans against the verdict, he added.

He also reprimanded Punjab bureaucracy for its brashness in the wake of Ahad Cheema’s arrest by National Accountability Bureau, saying “The decision to call a strike was made in the office of the chief secretary, which is treason.”

But it is allowed for Punjab. Yet people in Balochistan are picked up even if a leaf falls, he went on to question Punjab’s privileged treatment. “Is Punjab special?” he questioned. “Punjab is not a province, it is a family.”

Aitzaz said that he agreed one hundred percent with PPP’s Farhatullah Babar, who had urged all state institutions to remain within their limit, last week. “It is true that each institution must operate within its limits,” Ahsan said. “And that applies to us (the parliament) as well.”

The senator also criticised the judiciary, saying it had dealt with such critics [Nawaz, Maryam and others] with a soft hand. Further criticising, he said it was “frightening” when judges quote poetry in their verdicts. “Instead of using their pens, judges exceed their authority through their speeches instead,” he said as he endorsed Babar’s earlier statements.

Commenting on the dubious role of the military in the Faizabad sit-in that sought ouster of then law minister Zahid Hamid because of a “clerical error” pertaining to the finality of prophethood clause in a bill, he lamented that constitutional limits had been violated when cash envelopes were distributed among participants of the Faizabad sit-in. However, he did defend the army from the criticism levelled against it by the PML-N, saying: “The army is our army.”

“It is true that each institution must operate within its limits,” Ahsan said, “but that applies to us (the parliament) as well,” he said, adding that “the parliament, judiciary and executive are three pillars of the state and the army is one of the arms of the executive, which too cannot function extra-constitutionally.”