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Pre-Nov 3 judiciary was not independent, says Benazir

December 14, 2007

KARACHI, Dec 13: Pakistan People’s Party chairperson Benazir Bhutto said on Thursday that it was a wrong perception that the pre-Nov 3 judiciary was independent. Replying to a question during a news conference at Bilawal House, she said the same judges were there when local body polls were rigged.

Ms Bhutto said that she strongly believed in the independence of judiciary. She said that the issue of reinstatement of judges who had refused to take oath under the Provisional Constitution Order should be left to the new parliament.

“Judges come and go just like Justices Saeeduzzaman Siddqui and Nasir Aslam Zahid who refused to take oath under the PCO.”

If any judge wants to do politics he should set up a political party, she added.

Ms Bhutto said that the PPP played the role of a frontline party during the recent lawyers’ movement.

The PPP, she said, wanted an independent judiciary to flourish in a democratic process so that no one could sack judges and it should never be under the thumb of the executive.

Ms Bhutto said that Supreme Court Bar Association president Aitzaz Ahsan had decided to withdraw his nomination papers under pressure from the legal fraternity.

She said that Mr Ahsan had consulted and told the party that he was under intense pressure from the lawyers’ community not to contest the election, but he would remain part of the PPP.

Replying to a question about electoral alliance with the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl, she said she had empowered her party’s provincial presidents and the opposition leader in the Senate to hold talks in this regard, but it would be premature to say that the PPP would form the government in the NWFP in alliance with any religious party.

The PPP chairperson welcomed PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif’s decision to take part in the elections and after this announcement the PML-Q was in search of candidates. She said the PML-Q manifesto consisted of destruction, deception, dictatorship and disintegration of the country.

She said that all democratic forces should unite to pressurise the government to hold free and fair election.