LAHORE, March 26: Politicians and lawyers have demanded the trial of President Pervez Musharraf and superior court judges on “treason charges for conspiring against the sovereignty of the country and abusing the will of general public.”

They were speaking at a seminar arranged on Wednesday by the Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) on “constitution, parliament and LFO.”

PML-N acting president Makhdoom Javed Hashmi vowed that he would move parliament for president’s trial under Article 6 of the 1973 constitution for what he said committing treachery.

He claimed that the president did not have the locus standi to issue the LFO nor was he authorized to amend the constitution. “The parliamentarians will not let him enter the National Assembly premises as he does not deserve to be considered president of Pakistan.”

Hashmi said the Supreme Court also could not authorize any individual to amend the constitution as it was the prerogative of parliament.

Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president Hamid Khan said former president Rafique Tarar should have resisted the October 12, 1999, coup or, at least, he should have quit the same day instead of being ‘removed’.

He said the real democracy would dawn the day the military ruler and superior court judges were tried for treason.

The SCBA president claimed that grant of three-year ruling time to the former military regime was never an issue before the Supreme Court in the Zafar Ali Shah case. Rather, it had to decide whether the October 1999 intervention was constitutional. “This SC judgment has strengthened dictatorship in the country,” he observed.

Hamid Khan claimed that the provision regarding three-year extension in the retirement age of the superior court judges was dropped from the first package of the LFO approved on Aug 21, 2002, since the then law ministry had allegedly got it included in the package through fraudulent means. However, this provision was finally approved on the night of Oct 9, considering that this amendment would not get highlighted in the local press due to the general elections. The SCBA, in its meeting of Oct 26, had condemned the extension declaring it the last nail in the coffin of judiciary independence, he said. According to him, former chief justice Irshad Hassan Khan was made the Chief Election Commissioner following a deal for supporting former military regime’s cause of bringing its patronized candidates through rigging.

Jamaat-i-Islami Ameer Qazi Hussain Ahmad claimed that President Musharraf had recently conveyed a message to some politicians that he was willing to withdraw the LFO provided he was not opposed as COAS.

Qazi quoted Musharraf as conveying that he needed a “level of comfort” in the current political setup and needed support from politicians on the issue.

“Now he is looking towards the politicians for his future role instead of his reliable colleagues from the army,” claimed the Qazi, ruling out any parliament support for the president.

On behalf of the ARD, Qazi backed the LFO provision of enhancing the number of seats in the national and provincial assemblies but refused to validate all those provisions “safeguarding the interests of a dictator.”

Former chief justice Sajjad Ali Shah termed three-year extension in the superannuation age of superior court judges “bribery” to the judiciary. He said such an extension was not permissible under the constitution and had been granted by the military rulers to seek legal support from the judiciary for their unconstitutional acts.

“The Doctrine of Necessity should be buried once for all in Pakistan since it is used to declare all the illegitimate actions as legitimate and if it is allowed to prevail, it will harm the sovereignty of the country,” he observed.

According to him, parliament alone was authorized to ratify the LFO under the Doctrine of Ratification. “The LFO should be presented before the sitting Parliament. Though crippled, it can stamp its authority by deciding its (LFO) fate.”

About the treason trial, Shah said no one had ever been tried under Article 5 and 6 of 1973 Constitution. “Right now it seems impossible because it is the federal government which takes cognizance of such an offence and the Jamali government is not expected to go against Musharraf. Nevertheless, he demanded trial of those judges who delivered “faulty judgments” in support of the Musharraf regime and the president himself under treason charges.

The former chief justice further proposed that SC judgment in the Nusrat Bhutto case should be revised by its sitting 17 judges since it was delivered by nine judges of the SC and now its judicial review was a must.

According to him, the SC had given authority to former president Ziaul Haq to amend the constitution through its judgment delivered in the Nusrat Bhutto case and this precedent should now be abrogated by the sitting judges of the SC to stop its repetition in future.

ARD chairman Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan was of the view that currently there was no elected president in the country. He said the procedure adopted for the removal of former president Rafique Tarar was not covered by the constitution. President Musharraf was wearing too many caps on his head which could endanger the sovereignty of the country, he feared.

He declared last year’s general election as the worst-ever example of rigging and alleged that the administration on each level had patronized its candidates.

LHCBA president Hafiz Abdul Rehman Ansari and ANP leader Advocate Ehsaan Wyne also opposed the LFO and sought a joint struggle for its abrogation. Both accused the judiciary of supporting it just to enjoy three-year extension.

Later on, the LHCBA members unanimously approved a resolution saying they would not accept the LFO as part of the constitution. It said that Justice Sheikh Ahmad Riaz and Justice Qazi Farooq were no more judges of the SC and should vacate their offices forthwith after having reached their retirement age earlier this year.

Lastly, the LHCBA resolved that the UNO should ask the US and its allies to leave Iraq forthwith and the Security Councils should cancel the membership of the US for having launched attacks on Iraq without any moral and legal ground.

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