ISLAMABAD, Nov 5: Following the statements made on Monday by the Chief of Army Staff and the Chief Justice, the country’s two major political parties, PPP and the PML-N, preferred to play it safe — one gave a cautious reply when asked to comment while the other opted to keep quiet.
The office-bearers and key leaders of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), when contacted to seek their views on the back-to-back speeches of Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, which were not linked to each other and were given at two separate and unrelated events, declined to make any statement.
“We are just watching the tamasha (show) on media,” said a key PPP leader who also holds an important office. “If we say anything, it will provide another opportunity to the media to make headlines,” he said.
On the other hand, the PML-N expressed concern over the development.
“Matters of state should not be settled through media and such issues should always be discussed at proper forums,” PML-N’s Deputy Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal said while talking to Dawn.
Refusing to comment on the contents of the speeches made by the army chief and the chief justice, Mr Iqbal said his party held the PPP government responsible for the present state of affairs in the country which, according to him, was not ready to implement the courts’ orders in letter and spirit.
“The absence of the rule of law is the fundamental crisis the country is facing,” he said, adding that every institution and every individual has to be accountable to law and must respect the Constitution. He said the PML-N believed in the principle of supremacy of law which must be upheld at all costs.
The chief justice and the army chief spoke only a day after President Asif Ali Zardari, while addressing the inaugural ceremony of a three-day conference of the Association of Saarc Speakers and Parliamentarians, had stated that some people might feel that parliament was still under assault from certain quarters, but these were teething troubles of a genuine democratic transition and “the dying kicks of the old order”.
When contacted, Presidency’s spokesman Farhatullah Babar said: “I cannot comment on the statements of the army chief and the chief justice.”
The government’s spokesman and Federal Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira also declined to make any comment. But he is reported to have described the statement of the COAS as a “good one” when a TV channel approached him.
Although the presidency has decided to remain silent on the development for the time being, inside sources said President Zardari had discussed the issue with some of his aides.
They said the president was also expected to convene a meeting of the heads of parties in the ruling coalition to review the situation.
The Supreme Court, which recently issued a verdict in the Asghar Khan case and declared that the ISI had played a key role in interfering in the 1990 elections, is at present conducting trials of several retired army generals allegedly involved in financial mismanagement and other irregularities while serving in government and semi-government departments.
On the directives of the apex court, National Accountability Bureau is investigating alleged involvement of ex-army generals in three different cases — an alleged fraudulent deal to lease out Railways land in Lahore to a private club, Royal Palm Golf, in 2001, financial mismanagement in the National Logistics Cell and a fresh case against retired generals at present serving in Fauji Fertiliser Company Ltd.