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President Asif Ali Zardari. — Photo by Reuters/File

ISLAMABAD: Following orders from the Supreme Court in the Asghar Khan case and Lahore High Court in the case of dual offices of President Asif Ali Zardari, the presidency is trying to limit the political activities for now, at least for the media.

A key presidential aide told Dawn that the regular core committee meetings of the PPP would not be held in the presidency and they had paved the way for informal discussions on lunch and dinner tables.

Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Baber confirmed that the issue of curtailing political activities in the presidency was debated in the party following the Supreme Court verdict in the Asghar Khan case. But he would not disclose what the party had decided.

But sources in the presidency said the mode of the meetings had now turned to informal to deflect the criticism on the presidency for holding party activities. “PPP leaders are still frequent visitors but no press releases of the meetings are being issued. How can anyone stop the party leaders from discussing matters with their acting co-chairperson,” a senior PPP leader remarked.

Last week Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira told media in Lahore that the president was a political person and political activities could not be stopped in the President’s House

In the Asghar Khan case the apex court has declared that the holder of the office of President of Pakistan would violate the Constitution if “he fails to treat all manner of people equally and without favouring any set according to law and as such, creates/provides an occasion which may lead to an action against him under the Constitution and the Law”.

President Zardari has faced severe criticism from opposition parties for holding PPP meetings in the presidency.

A larger bench of the Lahore High Court headed by its Chief Justice Umer Atta Bandiyal is taking up the all important case of president’s dual office on Wednesday. Wasim Sajjad, the counsel for federation in the case, has been directed by the court to file a categorical response from the presidency on the political activities the president is engaged in as PPP’s co-chairman.

A contempt petition was also filed on Tuesday by a lawyer-turned-petitioner in the dual office case claiming that the presidency was not willing to shun its political activities thus committing contempt of the apex court ruling in the Asghar Khan case.

But president’s counsel Wasim Sajjad has taken the position before the Lahore High Court that since no political party has challenged the activities of presidency in the court, therefore, the petitions filed by lawyers have no legal value and can be dismissed on the question of maintainability. But the Lahore High Court has sought a categorical response from the presidency.

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