LAHORE: Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry has called for creating a “balance of power” among state institutions through a dialogue process.

Suggesting a way forward, Mr Chaudhry says a parliamentary committee of both the Senate and National Assembly should be constituted to develop a wider consensus, adding that the opposition’s role as an institution must not be undermined.

“The proposed committee’s foremost job should be to create consensus on amendments in the Army Act and economic policies to drive the country out of a quagmire of crises,” said the minister while addressing a press conference here on Sunday.

Mr Chaudhry said there were great ripples and under-currents in the political scene of the country as each institution was trying to amass power in the name of checks and balances.

Fawad Chaudhry calls for creating a ‘balance of power’ among state institutions through dialogue

Referring to Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Asif Saeed Khosa’s remarks about the need of a “greater dialogue” and the Benjamin Franklin’s concept “The New Deal”, Mr Chaudhry said it was high time to create a “New Deal” among state institutions and end the infighting for more power.

“It is the best of times in Pakistan, when Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, CJP Khosa, upcoming CJP Justice Gulzar (Ahmed) and Prime Minister Imran Khan unanimously believe in creating a balance of power among state institutions,” he said and added Gen Bajwa was particularly vying for strengthening of civil institutions and supporting the civil government.

He said the COAS, CJP and PM should patronise the proposed parliamentary committee, while media should offer its support for creating a balance of power among state institutions.

Acknowledging the importance of the opposition, he said, it must not be ignored while vying for a serious debate in the parliament that currently was almost non-functional. He said a single person would never be able to create balance of power among institutions until and unless all political parties develop consensus.

The federal minister said that the case of extension in the service of the COAS as well as the treason case against former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf had become political rather than legal matters. “The proposed parliamentary committee should decide about the tenure of the COAS,” he added.

CEC nomination

Answering a question about three names proposed by Leader of the Opposition Shahbaz Sharif for selection of new Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), the federal minister said that all the three proposed candidates were sober nominees and added that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government would propose its candidates soon. “A consensus will amicably be reached to select a new neutral and strong CEC,” he said.

Mr Chaudhry expressed his support for student unions and criticised the government’s action of launching treason cases against protesters. “The government must not make students its opponents,” he said and chided those who were urging the government to go for a drastic action.

Mr Chaudhry said that imposing a ban on student unions was one of the many mistakes committed by former military ruler Gen Ziaul Haq.

Stating that student unions are considered the backbone of any democracy, he referred to student unions in all world-class educational institutions, including Harvard, Oxford and Stanford universities.

Mr Chaudhry said the government had plans to allocate four per cent of the GDP to create a bio-technology base in the country, adding that only modern technology exports could help Pakistan come out of the trap of ever-increasing debts.

He said the government was actively working to establish a bio-technology park of herbal medicines on 300 acres of land in Jhelum and added that extraction units were being installed.

Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2019