Judiciary should play a role to keep all sides in their limits

By: Ashraf Mumtaz      Published: 06:05 PM, 2 Jan, 2021
Judiciary should play a role to keep all sides in their limits

For the 11-party opposition alliance – PDM – the Imran Khan-led government is illegitimate as it regards it as the product of ‘rigged’ elections.  

The conglomerate is also against the army because, it alleges, it imposed the present setup on the nation. 

Branding the incumbent prime minister as a ‘pawn’ of the establishment, the PDM at its over five-hour meeting at the palatial Jati Umra residences of the Sharifs on Friday, decided to make his ‘backers’ subject of their criticism, leaving open the possibility of making Rawalpindi (where the army headquarters are located) as the destination of its long march, date for which is yet to set. 

The alliance will contest the by-elections on the vacant assembly seats, deferring a decision on the Senate polls on 52 seats that will fall vacant by middle of March.

The PDM is also against the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and wants its disbandment because it is ‘victimizing’ a number of leaders belonging to parties in the grouping. 

PDM President Fazlur Rehman who is required to answer NAB questions about his assets has already refused to appear before the anti-graft watchdog and party’s secretary general Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri says the JUI chief would not turn up even if he was “chopped into pieces”. 

Not long ago the PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif had also targeted the judiciary and expressed dissatisfaction over their working.  

The question is what should be done if nothing is working according to the wishes of the opposition alliance.   

And whether the decisions are logical, based on principles or are no more than opposition for the sake of opposition. 

Also, what will be the situation if all demands of the opposition alliance are met? 

These decisions/demands are most unfortunate, illogical, unprincipled and don’t augur well for the country. 

As for the allegation that the army is interfering in the governance and will now be made subject of opposition’s criticism, the alliance should let the nation know who was responsible for this situation and why Mian Nawaz Sharif could not bring it to an end during his three tenures even when he had two thirds majority in parliament. 

The question is also very relevant for the PPP to answer as it also enjoyed three terms in power, excluding the one of Z.A. Bhutto’s. 

If military was interfering in governance, Mr Sharif should give the nation justification for using the shoulders of Gen Ziaul Haq and Lt Gen Ghulam Jilani Khan for coming to political limelight from oblivion. 

He should also remember the days when he used to proudly reiterate his commitment to advancing the mission of COAS Gen Zia.

The PDM’s stance against the NAB is simply hypocritical. 

Do the alliance leaders want the revival of the Ehtesab Bureau, the accountability institution that preceded the NAB with Saifur Rehman as its chairman? 

Not everybody remembers that it was during Saifur Rehman’s chairmanship that PML-N leader Shehbaz Sharif’s and Saifur Rehman’s phone calls to then Justice Malik Qayyum urging him to award maximum sentence to Benazir Bhutto had been intercepted and made public.

Benazir Bhutto and her spouse Asif Ali Zardari were staying abroad when the verdict came. The disqualification decision by the infamous bench had left no option for the couple but to stay abroad and wait for good days.   

Ironically, the bad name that the scandal brought to the Sharifs and Saifur Rehman did not distance the two sides.  

Propriety demanded that they should not be seen together. But now Maryam Nawaz’s son is going to wed Saifur Rehman’s daughter.  

Three cheers also for the leaders who, despite experiencing the consequences of Sharifs-Saifure Rehman-Malik Qayyum nexus, are adding their voice to the anti-NAB stance being raised from the PDM’s platform. 

‘Hangers on’ like Sajid Mir and Awais Noorani, heads of two religious parties, owe an explanation to the nation for the anti-accountability stance, especially when in their speeches they quote examples of caliphs to stress the point that in the Islamic system nobody is above the law. 

There is another contradiction in the PDM’s stance. While the assemblies are being labelled as illegitimate the decision to take part in the by-elections sounds illogical. Will it not mean sending some more ‘winners’ to the fake assemblies? 

Then, PML-N leader Muhammad Zubair, the spokesperson to Nawaz Sharif and Maryam, has been quoted as saying in a TV interview that his party would also contest the Senate elections to the seats due to fall after a couple of months. 

The question is: Will the people to be elected to the upper house of parliament by ‘fake assemblies’ be legitimate representatives?   

The situation has turned serious with the PDM decision to take on the army. 

Politicians attacking the army will provide an opportunity to the enemy to rejoice.  

To prevent the situation from worsening, the judiciary should play a patriotic role.  

Using its suo motu jurisdiction it should see what should be done to keep all institutions in their constitutional limits. Anyone exceeding its jurisdiction should be directed not to violate the Constitution.

Ashraf Mumtaz

The writer is the Deputy Editor of 24 Digital.