ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari preside over a meeting of the PPP’s central executive committee on Tuesday.—PPI
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari preside over a meeting of the PPP’s central executive committee on Tuesday.—PPI

ISLAMABAD: Opposition parties seem to be getting impatient with the prolonged Supreme Court hearing of a case dealing with the current political situation, and this was evident from the tone and tenor of the statements, press conferences and tweets issued by a number of opposition leaders on Tuesday.

In a series of press statements, opposition leaders not only urged the apex court to decide the case at the earliest, they also expressed the hope that the judiciary would not resurrect the “doctrine of necessity” again.

PML-N leader and former finance minister Miftah Ismail was so upset during a news conference alongside Shahid Khaqan Abbasi that he stated there was a possibility that interim Prime Minister Imran Khan would win the case.

It is perhaps out of frustration and as a last resort that opposition parties on Tuesday asked top military officials, including Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director General Lt-Gen Nadeem Anjum, to appear before the court and verify the claim of the interim Prime Minister Imran Khan that the National Security Committee (NSC) had also found a nexus between foreign elements and opposition parties.

Wants military leadership to appear before SC; hopes court will not resurrect ‘doctrine of necessity’

“If we are traitors, I demand that Army Chief General Bajwa and [the] DG ISI, who are members of the NSC, bring the evidence before the nation and the apex court,” PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif told reporters outside the SC before the start of the hearing.

“Have they (the military leadership) seen, vetted and signed the minutes of the NSC meeting?” asked Mr Sharif while referring to the March 31 meeting of the NSC, presided by Imran Khan, which was mentioned in the detailed ruling of Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri, through which he had disallowed a vote on the opposition-moved no-confidence resolution against Imran Khan.

“We have been protesting against him (Imran Khan) for more than three years now. But the day we decided to take a constitutional path [to oust him], we were called traitors,” he said.

Responding to a question, Mr Sharif said he had not received any letter from President Arif Alvi regarding suggestion of names for the appointment of caretaker prime minister.

Similarly, PML-N’s vice president and former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said there were seven military officials, including the army chief, the DG ISI and the chairman of the Joint Staff Committee, present in the NSC meeting. He said that he had himself presided over the NSC meetings as the prime minister and he knew the format of the meeting. He said civilian leadership sat on one side and the military on the other during the NSC meeting.

Mr Abbasi said the viewpoint of the civilian leadership was in front of the nation. Now, he said, it was the “responsibility” of the military leadership to tell the SC if the allegations on the basis of which the National Assembly had been dissolved were correct.

“The biggest responsibility now lies with the military leadership as they have also taken oath. Come to the SC and tell as to what was the decision (of the NSC)? If it was decided that we are traitors then register a case and if not, then try Imran Khan under Article 6,” said Mr Abbasi.

Mr Abbssi said unfortunately in the past, the SC had made the decisions which were directly in conflict with the Constitution. He said they had always respected the court’s decision. He said if the court could take a decision on the basis of an Iqama (work permit) then it should also play its role in defending the Constitution, stating that the judges had also taken oath to uphold and protect the Constitution.

Speaking at a news conference, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) information secretary Shazia Marri and former deputy speaker Faisal Karim Kundi also urged the SC to decide the case at the earliest and in accordance with the law and Constitution of the country.

Ms Marri said the lawyers community, bar councils and human rights bodies of the country had already declared that the ruling of the deputy speaker was illegal and Mr Khan had abrogated the Constitution.

Mr Kundi said when the court had taken the suo motu notice and started hearing of the case on Sunday despite a public holiday, they were expecting that it would issue a short order. However, he said, it did not happen and the hearing was still continuing in the court. He said the PPP had requested the hearing of the case by a full court, but its plea was turned down.

“We hope the court will make decision on merit and not under the doctrine of necessity,” said Mr Kundi.

The PPP leader also appealed to the chief justice of Pakistan and the judges of the SC to summon the minutes of the NSC meeting as declaring 197 members of the assembly traitors was not a little thing.

Later, speaking at a news conference after chairing a meeting of the PPP’s Central Executive Committee alongside his father Asif Zardari, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari urged the security establishment to come out with a clarification on the charges of foreign conspiracy.

The PPP chairman predicted ‘violent elections’ in the country if state institutions did not act in accordance with democratic and constitutional norms.

Mr Bhutto Zardari alleged that Imran Khan had made the security institution controversial for the sake of politics alone.

Responding to a question, the PPP chairman endorsed the protest call given by the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) in the country against Imran Khan’s illegal act of dissolving the assembly.

Published in Dawn, April 6th, 2022

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