LAHORE: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) on Tuesday warned that the current political crisis was designed to “stall the democratic process” and undermine the efficacy and legitimacy of the parliament.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, HRCP Chairperson Hina Jilani demanded all politicians sit together and resolve issues to strengthen the democratic process.
She said political parties should also not look towards the Supreme Court and armed forces to resolve their problems and should sit together to amicably solve their issues.
The HRCP chairperson alos noted how the dissenting order issued by two judges of the Supreme Court had ‘vindicated’ the political parties’ apprehension on the court’s decision on holding elections.
Hina Jilani says dissenting note by judges vindicates political parties’ apprehensions on SC order
Ms Jilani said the order, authored by Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail, was “an eye opener” and it was now the institutions’ turn to prove their impartiality.
To a question about the Supreme Court’s role in conducting elections, the HRCP chairperson said the court should not intervene in political matters as the matter was challenging the judiciary’s freedom.
She added that there should be a constitutional court to address the matters related to the Constitution or a full court bench should be established for adjudicating on these issues.
Ms Jilani said that it was important to uphold and strengthen the democratic process and expressed profound concern at the crises and polarisation across the political spectrum.
In an apparent reference to the PTI, the HRCP governing body said a political party first abandoned the National Assembly and then dissolved two provincial assemblies. Those in the government blocked the reversal of this move by thwarting the opposition’s attempted return to the National Assembly.
Although the commission agreed the dissolution of Punjab and KP assemblies was “politically expedient,” it expressed concern over the postponement of the elections till October by the Election Commission of Pakistan.
“We are also aware of legitimate apprehensions that such decisions could become a precedent to be used to derail the democratic process in the future.” The HRCP also called for a consensus among all political parties and stakeholders on the rationale for the delay and to ensure that the “unwelcoming precedent” must not be repeated.
“The crux of the ongoing crisis is political and not legal,” the commission said, adding that the government and the opposition have no option but to “hold serious and meaningful dialogue in the Parliament” to resolve their differences in the larger interests of the people.
HRCP said the judicial overreach was in conflict with the constitutional principle of the trichotomy of powers. The commission said the judiciary must safeguard its independence, and resist any urge to interfere in the business of other institutions.
HRCP also condemned violent and unlawful behaviour by political elements “aimed at creating disorder to further their political agendas.”
At the same time, it denounced the “strong-arm tactics and disproportionate use of force” by the state as a means of political repression.
“We are deeply concerned to observe that this has involved resorting to the use of colonial laws of sedition, unwarranted charges of terrorism against political opponents, enforced disappearances, and attempts to gag freedom of expression through ill-conceived proposals and actions through Pemra,” the HRCP added.
Published in Dawn, March 29th, 2023
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