PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Wednesday announced suspending the party’s Jail Bharo Tehreek (court arrest movement) in a move welcoming the Supreme Court’s 3-2 verdict of elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to be held within 90 days.
He said the party was suspending its “Jail Bharo movement and moving forward with election campaigns in KP and Punjab”.
Imran further said, “It was the responsibility of the Supreme Court to uphold the Constitution and they have valiantly done that through their judgment today. It is an assertion of Rule of Law in Pakistan.”
In the written verdict today, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, the top court held that in situations where a governor dissolved a provincial assembly, the constitutional responsibility of appointing a date for the election was to be discharged by the governor.
“In situations where the assembly is not dissolved by order of the governor, the constitutional responsibility of appointing a date for the general election that must follow is to be discharged by the president.”
It went on to say that regarding the dissolution of the Punjab Assembly, the constitutional responsibility for appointing a date for the general election was to be discharged by the president as the governor had refused to sign on the assembly dissolution summary.
But regarding the dissolution of the KP Assembly, the verdict continued, the constitutional responsibility for appointing a date for elections was to be discharged by the governor.
PTI election campaign to kick off from Saturday
Later in the day, Imran announced that the party’s election campaign would begin on Saturday evening.
He called on party workers to venture forth in every district and hold corner meetings and rallies which Imran will address.
“I will tell the nation how to get out of the quagmire we are stuck in,” he said, adding that the government had no solution to the country’s issues or any “roadmap”.
Imran said he would present a roadmap on Saturday about what steps need to be taken in the future to take the country out of its current situation.
The PTI chief also hailed today’s SC verdict and said his party would continue to support the apex court.
‘Victory’ for Constitution
In a tweet, PTI leader and former human rights minister Shireen Mazari termed the verdict a “victory for [the] Constitution and PTI’s position”. She said the Supreme Court found the KP government to be breaching the Constitution and upheld it.
“The man should have some shame and resign,” she wrote in a likely reference to the KP governor.
Former KP chief minister Mahmood Khan congratulated the nation on the “supremacy of the Constitution and the Supreme Court’s constitutional decision”.
PTI’s Fawad Chaudhry tweeted, “The Constitution won. Parliamentary democracy won. Clear orders of the Supreme Court have come; the president will announce the Punjab election date and has bound the KP governor to immediately announce the election date.”
Talking to reporters outside the Supreme Court, he said, “If the Supreme Court’s order is not followed, the Supreme Court will send the government home through Article 187 […] and will implement it itself.”
The former information minister added, “All five judges have endorsed the principle of conducting elections within 90 days.” He also said the apex court has directed the ECP to immediately propose an election date to the president.“
Chaudhry emphasised the issue was not just of the incumbent government but the future governments as well: “If today one government will hinder, then tomorrow another will and then a third will and a threat will be posed to the basic structure of the Constitution.”
PTI leader Faisal Javed Khan also welcomed the verdict, tweeting, “No one can defeat a country that has such a nation and a leader like Imran Khan.”
PTI leader and former deputy speaker Asad Qaiser termed the verdict “historic” and directed the party workers to prepare for the elections.
PTI’s Shahbaz Gill also voiced his delight at the verdict: “In the end, the victory is of Kaptaan (Imran Khan) and the people. PML-N and [its] followers made every effort to escape from the election. The election commission also made every possible effort to delay the election but salutations to the judiciary of Pakistan.”
Other party leaders — including PTI Sindh President Ali Haider Zaidi, former climate change minister Zartaj Gul Wazir, PTI Central Information Secretary and Khurrum Sher Zaman and Farrukh Habib — also rejoiced at the verdict.
Petitions dismissed by 4-3: Federal law minister
Meanwhile, talking to the media in Islamabad after the verdict, Federal Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar said, “After hearing the attorney general’s opinion and reading the written order, our stance is that these petitions have been dismissed by 4-3. Four honourable judges write these are not valid for hearing.”
He added, “Now, this decision should be finalised in the proceedings pending in the high courts according to law and Constitution.
Tarar further said, “There are some things on which there might be a debate but some things can be seen clearly in the law. In my view, the matter does not need an explanation and there is no need for a review. If someone has an objection to this explanation, they can get their own explanation.”
The PML-N minister added, “Today, seeing the ground realities, the three judges said that the governor and ECP or the president and ECP announce the date after consultation, and try to give the earliest possible time when the elections can be held as those 90 days within April 15 will have passed.”
Terming the judgment “very clear”, the PML-N leader said, “Two honourable judges said that they agree with the notes written by Justice Yayha Afridi and Justice Athar Minallah in the Feb 23 verdict that these petitions are not maintainable and not valid for hearing.
“They also said that we think the decisions of those two judges are part of the final order issued today. So, I think after this, neither a review is needed nor an explanation.”
Special Assistant to Prime Minister Ataullah Tarar tweeted it was “absolutely clear” the “Supreme Court’s decision on holding elections is by the majority of 4-3”, adding that the footnotes supported his stance.
He shared a screenshot of the judgment that highlighted an excerpt from the additional note of Justice Mandokhail and Justice Shah along with the footnotes on that page.
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