HYDERABAD: Pakistan People’s Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said on Sunday that the “judicialisation” of politics was not good for democracy as institutions got weakened when they started interfering in one another’s domain instead of doing their own job.
He said that the judicial activism must be reduced and the judiciary should focus on its work and let politicians work because the people always had an option to reject politicians if they failed to deliver.
Read: From Bhutto to Bilawal
He also vowed to resist any move aimed at rolling back the 18th Amendment.
Vows to resist move against 18th Amendment
Mr Bhutto-Zardari was talking to journalists after he visited family members of late Jam Saqi at his residence in Qasimabad to offer his condolence on his death.
Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, Sindh PPP president Nisar Khuhro and others were also present.
He said that the PPP had been seeking judicial reforms and it tried to introduce amendments in parliament, but the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz opposed the PPP’s plan on judicial reforms.
“I feel that the judicialisation of politics is being seen not only in Pakistan but in other countries. It is not good for democracy. Separation of power is an important component of democracy,” he said, adding that the institutions got weakened when they gave up their functions and start interfering in others’ domain.
“There are around 1.8 million cases pending [in Pakistan’s courts]. There are political and executive cases in the Supreme Court and the Sindh High Court. For every political case that they [judges] hear there is one murder victim family, there is one terrorism victim family and there is one rape victim family and they need justice but they are not getting an opportunity,” he said.
He was of the view that the “judicial activism must be lessened and the judiciary should do its work and let politicians work. If we [politicians] are bad or failed then masses have power to reject us through vote.”
PML-N slammed for undermining institutions
He said that the PML-N always undermined institutions and the recent statements of the prime minster against the Senate chairman were tantamount to weakening the Upper House.
Mr Bhutto-Zardari criticised the PML-N for not doing anything on the 18th Amendment and avoided announcing the National Finance Commission award. He said the thrice-elected PM showed up in parliament only on six occasions.
“Yet, Nawaz Sharif talks about sanctity of vote.”
“Nawaz fielded the opening batsman [Raja Zafarul Haq] of [former military dictator] Zia as his candidate in the Senate. Reason that the PML-N lost the election is that their candidate was weak. Even PM must know the N-parliamentarians who didn’t vote for him not for money or politics but simply because he was a candidate,” he said.
He said: “The entire narrative of the PML-N is focussed on individual and it didn’t talk about judicial reforms in five years. It didn’t strengthen institutions or 18th Amendment and decentralisation of powers. If your words don’t conform to your deeds then it shows a different impression.”
Commenting on the reconciliatory approach of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, he said that there had been a “good cop and bad cop role” as the PML-N used to play such game. “Sharif’s entire argument of ‘vote ko izzat do’, civilian supremacy, judicial reforms vanishes into thin air after PM met the Chief Justice of Pakistan,” he said.
Polls under ECP staff
About holding of the next general election under the supervision of the judiciary, he said that the PPP had been calling for financially strengthening the Election Commission of Pakistan so that it could hire its own staff to hold polls.
“But, if law allows ECP to hold elections through the lower tier of bureaucracy or judiciary then it was its legal right,” he added.
Still, he said, the PPP ideally wanted a strong ECP to hold free, transparent and impartial polls through their own staff.
“We will not let anyone rollback 18th Amendment,” he declared when asked whether he saw any threat to the historic legislation.
He said that the ISPR had clarified the point of “Bajwa doctrine” and therefore “we should pay less attention to that and more attention to official clarification of the ISPR”.
Paying rich tributes to Jam Saqi, he said that he was a true leftist who devoted his life for the ideological politics for which he would be held in high esteem in history.
He hoped that now Saqi’s children would work with the PPP, which had old ties with this family. He, however, said that the space for left-based politics had shrunk.
He said that Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had introduced land reforms because he believed in the ideology and Benazir Bhutto signed and implemented human rights’ conventions.
He termed the Benazir Income Support Programme a social safety net for poor women.
Later, addressing a programme of Christian community to celebrate Easter, he urged the people to support the PPP in the 2018 polls.
The PPP alone could fight terrorism, hate and religious extremism, he said.
He said that the PPP believed in merit, ideology and loyalty regardless of gender and social status. PPP gave first Hindu judge and made slain Shahbaz Bhatti the minister for interfaith harmony.
Senator Anwar Lal Dean and Krishna Kohli belonged to PPP, he added.
He urged the Christian community to support him to enable the PPP win the 2018 polls.
Published in Dawn, April 2nd, 2018