ISLAMABAD: The People’s Party will not write a letter to Swiss authorities for reopening cases against President Asif Zardari and will ‘resist’ actions by the Supreme Court within bounds of the Constitution, the PPP resolved on the eve of Wednesday’s hearing in the NRO implementation case.
The PPP’s frontline leaders met in the presidency on Tuesday night and chalked out a strategy to cope with the situation if the Supreme Court showed the door to the prime minister for contempt of court over not obeying its orders in connection with writing the letter.
Political and legal observers believe the government-judiciary tussle will intensify in the days to come as they expect that Prime Minister Ashraf could also be ousted like his predecessor Yousuf Raza Gilani was removed for contempt of court.
As all eyes are now on the Supreme Court and its Wednesday’s decision.
The PPP also called a meeting of its parliamentary party in Islamabad on Wednesday to devise a line of action against the backdrop of the court’s proceedings.
The meeting held on Tuesday “expressed determination to resist within the bounds of law and the Constitution the emergence of new centres of legislative power other than the elected parliament,” the president’s spokesman Farhatullah Babar said.
“Lawmaking is the sacred responsibility of legislature which will not be abandoned at any cost.”
Law Minister Senator Farooq H. Naek briefed the PPP stalwarts about legal challenges and the strategy adopted to confront them. The meeting expressed satisfaction with the strategy.
The meeting, which was also attended by former prime minister Gilani and PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, reposed full confidence in the leadership of President Zardari and Prime Minister Ashraf.
At its last meeting, the ruling coalition had decided to face emerging challenges with conviction and ‘force’ and this was shown by PPP’s leaders as they were found more critical in their statements and press conferences against the Supreme Court and Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.
Inside sources said the PPP leaders were hopeful that the prime minister would survive for two to three months even if the apex court ordered his removal.
Under the party’s new strategy, the prime minister will appeal against not only the striking down of the contempt of court law introduced recently but also possible removal of the second PPP premier. He will also say in the court that the president enjoys immunity under Article 248 of the Constitution and no case can be heard against him in and outside the country.
Senior lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan, for the first time, accused the Supreme Court of partiality.
“We support judicial activism but it should be on the basis of equality. Judiciary is free and independent but it should not be out of the ambit of the Constitution,” he said.
Mr Ahsan said no trial could be held against an incumbent president in any court.
Another senior lawyer, Khalid Javed, said the prime minister would get some time for reply and appeal, but the atmosphere of confrontation between the government and the judiciary would continue.
He, however, said there was no middle way in the case and the court would stick to its stance that the prime minister had to write the letter.
Former law minister Babar Awan said Swiss authorities would not accept any letter from the prime minister because according to their law it had to be written by the attorney general. “A Swiss court will not accept the prime minister’s letter,” he said.
The PPP’s ‘core committee’ discussed the situation with focus on preparation for elections, overcoming the energy crisis and the legal challenges before the government.
“The president called upon the party leaders to gear up preparations for future elections which, he emphasised, would be held on time in accordance with the constitutional and legal dictates and in consultation with coalition partners,” the spokesman said.
The president advised his party’s leaders to ensure that every MNA, MPA and ticket-holder thoroughly checked the voters’ lists so that no one was left out and report any discrepancy to the Election Commission for rectification.
The president was quoted as saying: “The PPP believes in the power of the people and is never shy of reverting to the people for endorsement of its policies. The party believes in free, fair and transparent elections for which it is important that the electoral rolls should be free of errors and no eligible voter is left out of it.”
He ruled out the possibility of an interim set-up and said holding of next general elections in time, at the end of the tenure of the present assemblies, would be another important milestone in the nation’s journey towards strengthening of democracy.
POWER CRISIS: The Minister for Water and Power, Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar, briefed the meeting about the energy situation and said in view of the critical nature of the power issue and the problems faced by the people, repair of high-voltage pylons in Muzzaffargarh had been carried out on a war footing and power to the national grid had been restored.
He said that with necessary financial resources being put in place for fuel and an expected rise in water level of dams, power generation would further improve.
The meeting was informed about progress in implementation of the federal cabinet’s decision about zero duty on the import of solar panels.
The president said solar-based energy would significantly reduce the pressure on the power sector. In addition to this, work on small dams in various parts of the country is also being done on a priority basis.