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LAHORE/KARACHI: Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Monday ruled out any support for Nawaz Sharif’s proposal to amend the Constitution, even as the former prime minister revealed his intentions to change the provisions which govern the judiciary’s workings.

The former PM, who had announced his intention to give the country a new Constitution during his GT Road rally, said on Monday that if his party came to power in 2018, it would table certain amendments aimed at ensuring the hassle-free dispensation of justice.

“We will make sure that free and swift justice is provided to the people. We need to get rid of the system where a case is not decided for three generations,” he said, reiterating that Pakistan belonged to 200 million people, and not to only “a few”.

However, speaking to reporters after paying his respects at the mausoleum of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the PPP leader ruled out the possibility of joining hands with the PML-N for any constitutional amendment, saying: “We have our own principles and will continue to practise principled politics and strive for peace in the country.”

Nawaz Sharif reveals plans to amend provisions dealing with judiciary’s workings

He said that after the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif, the government had crossed all limits. He was of the opinion that even if an amendment was made to the Constitution, it would not rescue Nawaz Sharif, nor could it achieve their desired objective.

“However, as far as the PPP is concerned, we would never join hands with the PML-N,” he said.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari insisted that leaders from Punjab should be wary of the situation on the country’s borders before issuing inappropriate statements that could lead to further tensions in the country.

Unfinished agenda

For his part, Mr Sharif insisted that his disqualification had derailed the PML-N’s economic agenda, and regretted that the development projects he had initiated could only be completed once the PML-N returned to power in 2018.

Speaking to reporters at Hazuri Bagh, where he came to pay his respects at the mausoleum of Allama Iqbal, the ousted prime minister said that even though his party was in government, it would not be easy to maintain the pace of development that he had initiated.

Strangely, Mr Sharif seemed to discount Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s ability to complete his unfinished agenda and regretted that had he not been sent packing, his government would have produced more electricity than the country needed at cheaper rates.

“We wanted to provide housing at affordable rates to those who could not afford it,” he said, but did not explain why the PML-N government could not continue these policies under the new prime minister.

Still be smarting from his ouster, Mr Sharif said the people should be asked whether they were actually joyous on this Independence Day. “We would have been happy had East Pakistan (Bangladesh) been with us today. We have only seen chaos in Pakistan during the last 70 years. Had we respected the ballot, we would not be faced with such a situation today,” he said.

The ex-PM cautioned that the country could face a repeat of the East Pakistan situation if the “ongoing drama” was not stopped. Referring to a respect for the ballot, he said: “It is because the ballot was not respected that we have been facing problems since 1947.”

Politicking

The political wrangling between the two parties was picked up by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and Governor Mohammad Zubair, who also paid their respects at the Quaid’s tomb on Monday.

Mr Shah recalled that when the 1973 Constitution was being restored to its original shape through the 18th amendment, it was the PML-N that strongly opposed any amendment to clause 62(1)(f).

“But now the PML-N leadership is proposing a repeal of the clauses. Had it been amended or repealed back then, things would have been different,” he said.

Mr Zubair, however, maintained that the prime minister’s Karachi development package was aimed at developing and restoring the infrastructure of the port city’s industrial areas, along with ensuring the provision of basic amenities across the city.

Published in Dawn, August 15th, 2017