ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has warned the government against confronting the country’s national institutions, including judiciary, and called for an investigation into the fiasco that led to the resignation of attorney general Anwar Mansoor Khan over the issue of judges’ surveillance and the role of Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Dr Arif Alvi in it.
Speaking at a news conference here on Monday, PPP information secretary Dr Nafisa Shah and her deputy Palwasha Khan called for the resignation of federal Law Minister Farogh Naseem and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar, alleging that the latter was the main person behind the alleged surveillance of the judges.
“Shahzad Akbar Sahib was spying on the judges and the judiciary,” Dr Shah alleged, calling Mr Akbar a “bounty hunter”.
She stated that Mr Akbar was wearing three caps at the same time as he was the special assistant to the prime minister, a state minister as well as the head of the Assets Recovery Unit which, according to her, had no legal standing in the presence of other institutions like the National Accountability Bureau, Federal Investigation Agency and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).
Dr Shah said the attorney general had submitted his resignation reportedly after making some allegations against the judiciary. She said the former attorney general (AG) had stated that he had resigned on the demand of the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC), whereas the law minister was claiming that the AG had been asked to quit his post by the government.
Seeks resignation of law minister, PM’s accountability aide
Similarly, she said, the former AG had stated that whatever he did in the court was on the directives of the government but later he retracted his statement saying the government had nothing to do with whatever opinion had been given by him in the court during the hearing of the reference against Supreme Court judge Qazi Faez Isa.
The PPP leader was of the view that in order to find the truth after these conflicting statements and to determine the role of the prime minister and the president in the whole episode there was a need for a proper investigation through a joint investigating team (JIT).
She said that as the captain of the government’s legal team, the law minister should resign.
Dr Shah alleged that after quarrelling with the opposition, the parliament, the Sindh government and the Election Commission of Pakistan, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) had now started a “conflict with the judiciary”.
Palwasha Khan on this occasion stressed the need for launching a movement for the prestige of the judiciary on the pattern of the 2007 movement which lawyers, politicians and the civil society had launched for the restoration of the judiciary during the military government of Gen Pervez Musharraf.
Ms Khan also criticised the federal government for backing the Sindh Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kaleem Imam “after failing to conquer the province through various federal ministers and PTI personalities”. She said that lives of all opposition lawmakers and politicians from Sindh were in danger. She said that one party MPA had already been assassinated.
In reply to a question about disunity in the ranks of opposition parties, Dr Shah said the PPP had been demanding that Opposition Leader Shahbaz Sharif should come back to the country to play his role.
She said that at present PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari was playing the role of the opposition leader by visiting various parts of the country and exposing the government’s failures on all fronts.
She lashed out at the government’s economic policies and said FBR chairman Shabbar Zaidi had become a “missing person” at a time when the economy was nose-diving.
Dr Shah said the government had crippled the parliament by running affairs of the state through presidential ordinances. She also asked the government to bring proposed changes in the rules putting curbs on social media in parliament in the form of legislation otherwise they would not accept it.
Published in Dawn, February 25th, 2020