LAHORE: National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq met ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif at his Jati Umra Raiwind residence on Monday and discussed with him his ‘fears’ that the present assemblies may not serve their full constitutional term.
A leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) from Punjab told Dawn that the meeting lasted over an hour during which Mr Sadiq apprised the former PM about his reasons for holding that pessimistic view. He added, however, that the PML-N chief had not appeared too impressed.
When contacted for comment regarding the meeting, a spokesperson for Mr Sadiq said: “The speaker will speak on the matter in a few days.”
Last week, the speaker had said that even though the continuity of the democratic system was critical to ensuring the strength of institutions in the country, he did not see the incumbent assemblies completing their tenures. “What is happening now has never been witnessed before,” he said, while ruling out the possibility of martial law being imposed on the country.
Speaking to journalists, Railways Minister Saad Rafique said that Mr Sadiq’s apprehensions should be taken seriously. “The speaker is a gentleman and his apprehensions carry weight,” he said.
Several senior PML-N leaders had earlier tried to explain the context for Mr Sadiq’s remarks by referring to the upcoming Senate polls or conspiracies, which they claimed, were being hatched against the government. However, the question of what exactly the “real threat” to the government is continues to perplex most PML-N leaders.
“The whole system — the government, the democratic set-up and the Senate polls — are facing serious threats from conspirators. Only Mr Sadiq can explain his statement, but as far as conspiracies against this government are concerned, they are in full swing... Perhaps he was referring to those,” former information minister Senator Pervaiz Rashid had told Dawn.
Some senior party leaders including Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had not seconded the NA speaker’s statement, insisting instead that the assemblies would complete their tenure and the election would be held in July next year. Similarly, in the wake of criticism from politicians of ruling and opposition parties and Mr Sadiq’s statement, Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, had last Saturday, advised people not to doubt the integrity of the judiciary as it would never become a “part of any plan”.
Referring to the CJP’s comments, Mr Rafique said: “I agree with the CJP’s remarks that the judiciary should not be undermined or mocked. However judges should also be careful while giving remarks considering their position.” He added that the PML-N had no differences with the judiciary; however, a bench had issued a verdict which “we think is beyond the law and Constitution...so we gave our reaction [to it] and that should not be taken as an attack on the judiciary.”
The railways minister said: “When Nawaz Sharif was disqualified for not receiving a salary from his son and Imran Khan was given a clean chit despite his owning an offshore company, then we are justified in raising the question that justice was not done with us,” he said, adding that the disqualification of politicians had given rise to a host of complications.
Published in Dawn, December 19th, 2017