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PDM demands full court bench on Punjab CM election case

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) – a ruling alliance on Monday (25th of July, 2022) demanded formation of a full court bench of Supreme Court for hearing petition regarding election of Chief Minister Punjab, saying this would defeat all conspiracies against democracy and democratic culture.

The PDM leaders said they were not objecting to powers of the apex court, however, they only wanted all judges should hear the petition and their verdict should be acceptable to all.

They opined during past few years it was observed that a bench comprising specific three Honorable judges has been listening to cases of political nature.

At present a three-member Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Umar Ata Bandial is hearing the case filed by Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Q) leader Chaudhry Pervaiz Ilahi who had challenged ruling of Deputy Speaker Punjab Assembly during election of Chief Minister Punjab.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Amir and PDM President, Maulana Fazlur Rehman along with Vice President of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Maryam Nawaz, Chairman Pakistan People’s Party, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, PML-Q’s Tariq Bashir Cheema, ANP’s Aimal Wali Khan, MQM’s Usama Qadri, leader of Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) Khalid Magsi, leader of Balochistan National Party (BNP) Agha Hassan Baloch and independent MNAs Aslam Bhutani and Mohsin Dawar were addressing a joint press conference centered on current political situation that took a tailspin after Hamza Shahbaz’s election as Chief Minister of Punjab.

Other senior leaders of the PDM and cabinet members present on the occasion included Minister for Interior Rana Sanaullah, Minister for Planning and Development, Ahsan Iqbal, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb, Minister for Environment Sherry Rehman, Minister for Power Khurram Dastgir, Minister Communications Maulana Asad Mehmood, and PM’s Adviser Amir Muqam.

PDM leaders on Full Bench 3PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz said that she had been advised by ‘sympathizers’ not to hold the media talk as it would affect her appeal in the Panama case that was being heard by the Islamabad High Court and was in its “final stages”. “However, I said that the people’s representative has to think beyond themselves and think about the people.”

“I can write an essay praising the judiciary but one wrong decision will dismiss the entire [argument],” she said. On the other hand, a decision based on justice could withstand criticism, she said.

She said Hamza Shehbaz won the slot of Punjab Chief Minister in the run-off election, but the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) approached the Lahore Registry of Supreme Court, over jumping the court walls, that opened late night despite holiday. It was ironic that the Registrar waited for filing of the petition that wasn’t even ready by that time, she added. “It never happens in filing of petitions.”

Maryam Nawaz expressed concern over the existing system of petition filing and constitution of court benches.

She recalled that in the Senate chairman’s election as many as six votes were rejected; and subsequently Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani was elected as the chairman. The court was approached which said that ruling of the presiding officer ‘cannot be challenged.”

Contrary to it, he said, in the Punjab Chief Minister’s election, Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari rejected 10 votes of Pakistan Muslim League-Q on the advice of party head Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, but in that case the PTI was being entertained fully.

Maryam Nawaz highlighted the importance of justice dispensation in society without any discrimination for achieving required goals of national development and prosperity.
She quoted the famous saying of Winston Churchill, who during the World War-II had raised the question “whether the country courts are dispensing justice, if yes, no force of the world can defeat us.”

She said it was unfortunate that during the past few years, there was a series of “startling decisions by the judiciary”, adding there could be a ‘wrong decision’ but it should not have consistency as the court verdicts left deep impact on society for decades.

Maryam Nawaz said PML-Q President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain had asked his party MPAs to cast their vote in favour of Hamza Shehbaz but they defied, so their votes were rejected in line with the law and the Constitution.

She said Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari was summoned by the Supreme Court on rejecting the PML-Q votes, but former deputy speaker of National Assembly Qasim Suri who had violated the Constitution by rejecting the no-confidence motion against the then prime minister Imran Khan was not summoned.

She said 25 lawmakers in the Punjab Assembly were de-seated by the court on a petition of the PTI and even their votes were not counted in the chief minister’s election held in April, adding “ninety-five per cent independent jurists said that it was tantamount to rewriting the Constitution . . . resultantly 25 PML-N members were given to the PTI . . . the PML-N votes go in minus and PTI’s in plus.”

She was of the view that the interpretation and definition of the Constitution should not vary on case to case basis.

Maryam Nawaz said PML-N chief Muhammad Nawaz Sharif was ousted in the Panama case from the premiership and even removed from the party’s top slot for holding an ‘Iqama,’ saying that the party head was ‘everything’ as he influenced running the party affairs and on voters.

“Now, when Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain as the PML-Q head gives directives to party members, they come under question. But, when PTI chairman Imran Khan gives order it stands respectable,” she said, adding in the case of Chaudhry Shujaat, the parliamentary party stood superior, but in the PTI case, the party head was given weightage.

“There is no insult to any institution from outside as it happens from within,” she said.

Maryam Nawaz also quoted a saying of Khulfa-e-Rashdeen (First four Caliphs after Hazrat Muhammad Peace Be Upon Him) that a system of ‘Kufr’ (non-believing in Islam) could sustain in a society but not of the cruelty.

Maryam Nawaz said the country would be able to effectively tackle the confronted challenges when justice would be dispensed without any discrimination.

She said since Hamza Shehbaz became Punjab’s Chief Minister, he was unable to perform his duties as he remained stuck up in matters related to the ‘Parliament and Court.’

She said the previous government of PTI in its tenure ruined the national economy, but no one commented on it, but they started commenting on the state of the economy when the incumbent government came into power in April, 2022.

If the economic comparison had to be drawn, she said, it would be between 2017, when Nawaz Sharif was ousted, and April 2022, when Imran Khan left the economy on ‘ventilator.’

The PML-N Vice President said Imran Khan gave Rs 50 billion to Malik Riaz, Pakistan received from the UK National Crime Agency in a money laundering case, after getting the ‘sealed letter’ approved from his cabinet. “Rs 50 billion was siphoned off to Malik Riaz. It was the national wealth…where is its money trail.”

She said the country was facing turbulence since 2017 and the national economy was not getting stable.

She said the majority of judges enjoyed a good reputation and integrity and they should also be made part of the benches hearing PML-N cases.

She regretted that the PML-N leadership was called with the titles of ‘Godfather and Sicilian Mafia,’ besides holding extensive investigation against them but could not prove corruption even of a single penny.

Maryam Nawaz said the ‘declared absconder’ Imran Khan was used to appear in court hearings with protocol, while PML-N leaders Talal Chaudhry and Daniyal Aziz faced contempt of court proceedings.

She said the PTI, during its previous 126-day sit in 2014, had launched a physical attack on state institutions including Parliament House and Pakistan Television Headquarters, but unfortunately, he was not held accountable. Now, the episode repeated when the PTI was given access to the red zone for the peaceful long march, but it turned into a violent protest.

Maryam Nawaz said it was unfortunate that a ‘liar ’[Imran Khan] was awarded a certificate of the upright and truthful person, who always remained indulged in violating the law and defying court directives, as he had committed in the recent so-called long march.

She said the stories of ‘Sadaqat-o-Amanat’ had started getting fame now after handing over Rs 50 billion to Malik Riaz and the alleged corruption of Farah Gogi and the Maneka family.

She said no one had taken notice of the abroad-fleeing of Farah Gogi and former SAPM on Accountability Shehzad Akbar, issuing of officials funds by Imran Khan to MNAs for political gains, closure of NAB case against Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, inquiries in Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project and Malam Jabba case.

Maryam Nawaz said the foreign funding case of PTI, which related to fake accounts and prohibited funding, was pending for the last seven years. Had there any party other than the PTI, it would have not been spared, she added.

Answering a question, she said it was strange that Imran Khan was leveling rigging allegations even after winning the recent by-polls in Punjab.

She said the PTI chairman was pressuring the own-appointed Chief Election Commissioner, by leveling the rigging allegations, to get the foreign funding case decision in his favor.

To another question, she said Nawaz Sharif was innocent and implicated in baseless cases, while Imran Khan, a wanted accused in different cases, was moving freely. “Nawaz Sharif wanted to return to Pakistan . . .,” she remarked.

PDM leaders on Full Bench 1Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) Chief Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman said the coalition government desired a full court bench on the Punjab Chief Minister’s election case. He said the formation of full court bench was demand of the justice and there should not be any controversy in its verdicts in the best interest of the country.

Seconding Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz Vice President Maryam Nawaz views, Fazl said the government wanted to fortify the judiciary but the decisions should speak themselves. He said the incumbent government given mandate by the people was not being allowed to function properly.

He said the people’s confidence in the country’s institutions needed to be restored but the latter should also assess their role and hold themselves accountable as well.

The PDM chief said, “We want to make country economically stable. We all are on one page to set the economy on the right track but let us do it.”

Responding to a query, he said the country was facing serious economic crisis due to the previous regime’s bad governance but the coalition government saved it from bankruptcy and brought it on the road to progress.

PDM leaders on Full Bench 4Chairman Pakistan People’s Party and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari called for the formation of a full bench of Supreme Court to hear the case related to the Punjab chief minister’s election.

Speaking at a joint press conference along with leaders of the coalition government, he said the full court bench was important to avoid any “controversial and partial” verdict on the case.

The presser came ahead of the resumption of a hearing by the country’s top court on the petition of Pakistan Muslim League (Q) leader Chaudhry Parvez Elahi challenging the Punjab Assembly deputy speaker’s ruling.

Bilawal Bhutto stressed that only three judges could not decide the destiny of the nation.
“When all judges will hear the case, no one will have any objection to the decision,” he said pointing out that, “all institutions needed to work within their own ambit.

The verdict by a three-member bench will give an impression that the institutions are ‘not neutral’,” he said.

Bilawal mentioned that his party had a long history of struggle for upholding democracy in the country and had rendered immense sacrifices.

“We want the country to be run in accordance with the Constitution,” he said criticizing the government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf for wreaking havoc on the economy and stability of the country in the last four years.

Central leader Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Osama Qadri on Monday expressed the hope that the Supreme Court of Pakistan will constitute a full bench to hear the matter of the election of Chief Minister Punjab.

Osama Qadri said that the honorable institutions should respect the wishes of the citizens of the country.

He said that there is no harm in establishing a full bench of the Supreme Court on the matter of the election of Chief Minister Punjab. He said that this is the demand of the public and honorable judiciary should consider their demand.

He said that this is the constitutional right of political parties to request the country’s courts to hear the important matter in the presence of all honorable judges of the Supreme Court. He said that all political parties are united on major political issues in the country.

He said, “We want supremacy of the law and strengthening of democratic institutions of the country. We are against any unconstitutional move considering it against the wishes of the people of the country.”

Member National Assembly (MNA) and Chairman National Democratic Movement
Mohsin Dawar said the country or any system of a nation cannot function without the supremacy of law.

Addressing a joint media briefing here at the Prime Minister Secretariat along with other members of the Federal Cabinet, the National Democratic Movement chair said the judgment made by the apex Court judges to ban the entry of political leaders in the court premises would tarnish the epitome of rule of law.

Dawar said the only binding document was the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan that kept the nation unified, adding, “if we will not uphold the Constitution supreme then it may create chaos in the county.”

Balochistan National Party (Mengal) MNA Agha Hassan Baloch said it was regrettable to ban the entry of political leaders and workers to hear the court proceedings. | YouTube Channel

M M Alam

M. M. Alam is a Pakistan-based working journalist since 1981. Karachi University faculty gold medalist Alam began his career four decades ago by writing for Dawn, Pakistan’s highest circulating English daily. He has worked for region’s leading publications, global aviation periodicals including Rotors (of USA) and vetted New York Times as permanent employee of daily Express Tribune. Alam regularly covers international aviation and defense-related events including Salon Du Bourget (France), Farnborough (United Kingdom), Dubai (UAE). Alam has reported thousands of events and interviewed hundreds of people in Pakistan, UAE, EU, UK and USA. Being Francophone Alam also coordinates with a number of French publications.