LAHORE, July 18: The amendments proposed by the government amount to ‘militarization’ of the Constitution, representatives of the Bar said here on Thursday.
Addressing a press conference, Supreme Court Bar Association President Hamid Khan, Pakistan Bar Council member Hafiz Abdur Rehman Ansari, Lahore High Court Bar Association President Chaudhry Muzammil Khan and Lahore Bar Association President Chaudhry Nisar Ali Kausar wondered why constitutional amendments were being proposed on the eve of elections when they could easily have been inserted any time during the three-year term given to the military regime by the Supreme Court. The aim, perhaps, was to delay the elections and create confusion and uncertainty by entangling the people in constitutional disputations while the regime quietly went about its plans to manipulate the polls, the Bar leaders said.
They affirmed that the Pakistan Bar Council had expressed lack of confidence in the judiciary by deciding to refrain from challenging the amendments packages in the Supreme Court. They deplored that the judiciary, particularly the Supreme Court, has let the people down at crucial moments in Pakistan’s history. The PBC decision was based on empirical considerations, they said.
The bar, they warned, would not accept any extension in the retirement age of superior court judges. The Pakistan Bar Council has demanded the appointment of a high-powered judicial commission consisting of judges, lawyers and members of parliament for dealing with all matters pertaining to the superior judiciary, including appointments, but it wanted the provision to be incorporated in the Constitution by the parliament.
Apprehending that the elections might be postponed, the bar leaders pointed out that no election schedule had been announced so far. The promulgation of new elections laws and rules, amendments to the Political Parties Act and the proposed constitutional changes were not conducive to the holding of a free and fair polls.
About the questionnaire sent by the PBC to the various political parties, Hamid Khan, who is also a PBC member, said the replies would be considered by a PBC meeting to be held in Islamabad on July 27. The meeting would also decide the future course of action.
Punjab Bar Council Vice-Chairman Ramzan Chaudhry, SCBA Secretary Anwar Hamid Sahibzada and LHCBA Secretary Shahid Mahmood Bhatti were also present at the press conference. —Shujaat Ali Khan