LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Friday adjourned the hearing of a contempt petition against President Asif Ali Zardari until March 8.
The five-member bench of the LHC, headed by LHC Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, was hearing the contempt petition filed by Munir Ahmad Khan against President Zardari for not complying with the court’s order in the dual office case.
The court directed the federation’s counsel, Advocate Wasim Sajjad, to seek instructions from President Zardari whether he was willing to refrain from indulging in political activities in public arena.
The counsel pointed out that he had maintained throughout the case proceedings that no contempt was made and requested the bench to correct its last order.
The chief justice observed that the court would look into the matter and asked the counsel to proceed further and focus on the petitioner’s application regarding the latest political activities of the president based on newspaper clippings.
However, Sajjad told the court that it was impossible to contradict all news reports and claimed the media had previously misquoted his statement.
To query by the court, he said that the dual office case verdict dealt with political activities in the presidency and the political office enjoyed by the president.
He said that he had already submitted that no political meetings would be held in the presidency and that the president did not hold any political office.
The chief justice pointed out that it was mentioned in the dual office case verdict that the president should be impartial and remain aloof from politics.
Wasim Sajjad replied that the observation was made with reference to the Nawaz Sharif case wherein it was alleged that the president was acting in a discriminatory manner.
“But such an allegation was not leveled against the president in the current matter”, he argued.
He said that private activities of the president were not questioned in the present case but if they were challenged in future then those would be dealt with.
He said that the president was a symbol of the federation and that he should not be made controversial.
The chief justice observed that it was a very fragile point that the Pakistan People’s Party and Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarian were different parties. “Will the president go in public arena?” he questioned.
Wasim contended that it was not an issue before the court and attention should be focused on the dual office case verdict only. “No new area should be discovered,” he said.
He said that the president was performing his duties as per his oath and that there were no allegations regarding the discharge of his official duties.
However, the bench directed Wasim Sajjad to inform the court after taking instructions from the president whether he was willing to refrain from indulging in political activities in the public arena. The court observed that the maintainability of the petition would be decided after the reply.
The court also issued a notice to the federation on a civil miscellaneous application moved by the petitioner and adjourned the hearing until March 8.