HYDERABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party leader and former senator Sardar Abdul Latif Khosa, who is also a senior lawyer, has said that Supreme Court could not change/alter Constitution or even a law which the present [federal] government intends to.

He was speaking to reporters at a luncheon hosted in his honour by additional advocate general Allah Bachayo Soomro in the Sindh High Court building here on Tuesday.

“The [PTI] government is trying to amend Article 63 to allow dual nationals to contest elections and to accommodate government’s advisers and ‘ATMs’,” he said, adding that the government did not have understanding of economy and governance.

‘Presidential reference on open ballot in Senate election should be brought in parliament’

Mr Khosa said the government was seeking to damage government-opposition working relationship — the acceptable norm in democracies. “PPP brought about hundreds of amendments but with consensus,” he said, and added that nothing could be thrust upon people or parties.

He said PPP had long ago moved a reference for a retrial of Z.A. Bhutto’s case but it had not been heard yet by the apex court. But the presidential reference on Senate election filed only recently was being heard.

He said the presidential reference on open vote did not have grounds technically. He expressed the view that SC should return the reference to government with directives to table it in parliament for amendment to Article 226 the way the apex court did in the case of army chief’s extension issue.

He drew a parallel between the extension case and presidential reference. He said three different directives were issued by government on the extension issue and the matter finally landed in parliament.

Mr Khosa said that Article 226 was clear that “all elections except for prime minister and chief minister shall be held through secret ballot”. He said exemptions had been defined in the article, still government moved the apex court. The government should have brought the matter to parliament, he added.

He said it was a responsibility of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to ensure holding of free and fair elections. The elections in Daska (NA 75) had become questionable as 20 presiding officers had gone missing with election bags and the returning officer kept locating them but nothing happened. The ECP kept sending messages to the presiding officers but without response. These POs resurfaced the next morning. He said in this constituency an overall 35pc turnout was recorded but in these 20 polling stations it was 90pc with polling of 13,000 votes. He said these polling stations were located within a radius of around 30-35 kilometres and one could even travel on a bicycle in such area. He said that a candidate could not manage all this without administrative collusion. He said that all this could not be termed accidental.

He said ECP should expose whosoever is behind it.

Published in Dawn, February 24th, 2021

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