SC verdict 'great disappointment' to those expecting instability due to 'clash of institutions': PM

Updated 28 Nov 2019

Email

Prime Minister Imran Khan has ruled out a clash of institutions in the country. — Photo: PM Imran Instagram/AP/SC
Prime Minister Imran Khan has ruled out a clash of institutions in the country. — Photo: PM Imran Instagram/AP/SC

Minutes after the Supreme Court allowed Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa to stay in his office for another six months, Prime Minister Imran Khan reacted to the top court's judgement, calling it "a great disappointment to those who expected the country to be destabilised by a clash of institutions".

Taking to Twitter, he said the fact that a clash of institutions was averted "must be of special disappointment to our external enemies and mafias within - Mafias who have stashed their loot abroad and seek to protect this loot by destabilising the country".

In another tweet, Prime Minister Imran said 23 years ago, the PTI was the first political party to advocate for an independent judiciary and the rule of law. In addition, he said the PTI was at the forefront of the Movement for Independence of the Judiciary in 2007 and he was "jailed for it".

Editorial: The Bajwa episode lays bare the PTI government’s authoritarian streak and its lack of maturity

"Also, for the record, I have the greatest respect for CJ [Chief Justice Asif Saeed] Khosa, one of the greatest Jurists produced by Pakistan," the prime minister wrote.

The prime minister expressed similar sentiments while addressing a conference of Pakistani envoys to African countries later in the day, saying attempts were made to "destabilise the country" in recent days first through the JUI-F-led dharna and later through the case regarding the army chief's tenure in the apex court.

He said these elements with their attempts to destabilise the country had put the issue of suppression in occupied Kashmir, which the government had been raising, "on the backburner". As a result, the "racist" BJP government of India found a reason to rejoice the most, he added.

"Pakistan's democracy is maturing [...] Institutions will never clash amongst each other now. All institutions have started to operate within their boundaries," the premier said.

He said his party had campaigned for an independent judiciary from the very beginning. "We will always strengthen our institutions and the judiciary," Prime Minister Imran stressed, adding that the current harmony between the institutions is "unprecedented".

The Supreme Court had earlier today in its short order announced that Gen Bajwa will remain the Chief of Army Staff for another six months, during which the parliament will legislate on the extension/reappointment of an army chief.

A three-member bench — comprising Chief Justice Khosa, Justice Mian Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah — announced the much-anticipated verdict after being assured by the government that the parliament will pass relevant legislation within six months.

'Matter resolved'

Commenting on the SC judgement, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi while talking to DawnNewsTV said the government had tried to assist the court and address its concerns. "I think this matter has been safely resolved and I do not see any ambiguity in it now," he added.

Answering a question, he said the government will not need to amend the Constitution in order to carry out legislation as per the Supreme Court's instructions.

Qureshi said there was "nothing lacking" in the government legal team's performance in the top court, and that the procedure explained by them was based on past precedents.

A cabinet meeting will examine the SC verdict and take appropriate measures because the country "cannot afford any sort of crisis at this stage", he added.

The minister noted that although the issue of the army chief's tenure is Pakistan's internal matter, "celebrations were being held in India" because it wanted to create instability in the country.

In response to a question regarding whether the government will use the legislation in this case to assert civilian supremacy, Qureshi said the government will maintain its "functional relationship" with the country's security institutions as it has since the start of its tenure.

"I want to state clearly, the authority to [grant] an extension rests with the executive," he said, adding that Prime Minister Imran had approved the extension under the Constitution.

PML-N reacts

Reacting to Prime Minister Imran's tweets, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb in a statement accused the premier of attempting to put the burden of his "inefficiency" onto others.

"Even the Supreme Court repeatedly pointed out your inefficiency," she told the prime minister.

She said Prime Minister Imran had been unable to prove a penny's worth of corruption by people whom he accused of looting the country.

The PML-N leader asked the premier to explain whom he was referring to as "mafias", saying the petition regarding the army chief's extension was heard and decided by the Supreme Court.

'Govt will need opposition on board'

Commenting on the SC order, PPP leader Sherry Rehman in a tweet said the government will need the opposition on board to legislate on the matter of the army chief's tenure.

"This government acts like someone else will run things for them. Well, news flash: even if you were brought in, you are expected to do the job of running Parliament. Yourself," the senator wrote.