ISLAMABAD: The government members of the bipartisan parliamentary committee, which had failed to agree on a name for the caretaker prime minister, sent a letter to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Saturday in which they glorified the PPP’s nominees and vilified the opposition’s.
The PPP move invited wrath of the PML-N, which termed it an attempt to pressure the ECP at a time when a decision is barely 24 hours away.
Sources in the PPP told Dawn that according to the government members in the committee, both retired Justice Nasir Aslam Zahid and Rasul Bakhsh Palijo could not be considered as “impartial persons” because of their anti-PPP feelings and actions.
“Yes, all members of the government side in the parliamentary committee have sent a letter to the ECP, asking its members to consider it at the time of selection of the caretaker prime minister,” said a signatory to the letter.
In reply to a question, he said the PPP had sent the letter on its own since the ECP had not called for any such correspondence.
The PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, ANP’s Ghulam Ahmed Bilour and PPP’s Syed Khurshid Shah and Farooq H. Naek had represented the government side in the parliamentary committee.
The sources said the ECP had been informed about some of the decisions and acts of Justice Nasir Aslam Zahid, showing his alleged inclination towards the PML-N.
The ECP had been told that Justice Zahid had not only wrongly implicated President Asif Ali Zardari in the murders case of his brother-in-law Justice Nizam Ahmed and his son in Karachi but he was also the head of the Supreme Court bench that had acquitted the PML-N workers in the famous case of the attack on the SC building.
The sources said the letter alleged that Justice Nasir Aslam Zahid had a “pivotal role” in the government-judiciary tussle in 1990s when the then chief justice Sajjad Ali Shah had initiated contempt of court proceedings against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
The letter, the sources said, had a special mention of the alleged torture of Mr Zardari when he was in a Karachi prison in connection with the murder case of Justice Nizam and his tongue was cut with a sharp weapon and was later taken to Aga Khan Hospital in a critical condition.
The letter has told the ECP that Justice Nasir Aslam Zahid was a “pro-PML-N man” and his whole family had “hostility” towards the PPP.
The ECP has also been informed that Rasul Bakhsh Palijo is a known “anti-PPP veteran politician” and his son is heading the Awami Tehrik Party in Sindh. “Mr Palijo has criticised each and every decision of the PPP governments since the era of late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto,” the sources quoted from the letter.
The government members in their letter had also highlighted the achievements of its own nominees – former State Bank governor Dr Ishrat Husain and retired Justice Mir Hazar Khan Khoso.
Talking to Dawn, PML-N deputy secretary general Ahsan Iqbal termed the PPP’s move an attempt to “dictate” the ECP. “This is an attack on the ECP’s independence,” he said, alleging that the “PPP has now started to cross limits”.
Meanwhile, sources said president of the PML-N’s Islamabad chapter and former MNA Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry met ECP Secretary Ishtiak Ahmed Khan on Saturday evening to express his party’s concern over the PPP’s letter.
The sources said the PML-N leader submitted a hand-written complaint on behalf of former leader of the opposition in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan when asked by the ECP secretary to do so. In his complaint, Dr Chaudhry has asked the ECP not to consider the PPP’s letter in which the government had presented only a “one-sided picture”.