CIVIL SOCIETY PAKISTAN

February 24, 2008

Lawyers committed to bring genuine arbiters back: Aitzaz

Filed under: POST-ELECTIONS 2008 — civilsocietypakistan @ 12:35 am
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THE NATION

FEB 24, 2008

SAJID ZIA
LAHORE- SCBA President and PPP stalwart Aitzaz Ahsan has said if the Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) issued by General (r) Pervez Musharraf on November 3 is not scrapped, it would be a license to the every army chief to come into the civil side and impose emergency for some days and issue a constitution with amendments of his choice to oblige the government to follow it.
Addressing to a highly excited legal fraternity standing between the two blocks of the Lahore High Court on the occasion of his appearance under special permission to cast vote in the LHCBA elections here on Saturday, Aitzaz said the continuation of the PCO, under which over 60 judges including Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhary had been deposed, would not let the Parliament to function smoothly besides hitting the fundamentals of the parliamentary form of system.
By the approval of hundreds of lawyers, he expressed his firm belief that the PCO was totally unconstitutional and a measure which Musharraf pursued overstepping his powers for which he was not competent. “Lawyers don’t accept the PCO and would continue their fight to get it annulled by the upcoming government,” he said.
Referring to July 20 decision by the 13-member bench of the SC regarding restoration of CJP Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry after he was sacked by General (r) Musharraf on March 9 last, he said the decision in clear terms had set the rule that no judge of the superior judiciary could be sacked without resorting to Supreme Judicial Council under Article 209 of the Constitution.
He said the issuance of the PCO for removing the judges and the oath under the same order was outside the legal and constitutional authority. He named three judges who were also members of the said 13-member bench but they took oath under the PCO and sit in the present the SC.
“How could PCO be held constitutionally valid by the Court to justify removal of the judges and fresh oath by the rest under it,” he questioned.
Aitzaz made it clear that reinstatement of the deposed judges was the only way if the parliament had to run and added that legal community is providing a chance to new House to order restoration of the judges otherwise the community was geared up to take to a long march from all over the country to Islamabad on March 9 next.
“The center of ‘power of gravity’ would remain with the parliament if the judges are restored otherwise it would shift to lawyers side who then would be out in the streets up in arms to press their demand, he warned.
Aitzaz said so far the legal fraternity was satisfied with both PPP Co-Chairman Asif Zardari and PML-N Quaid Nawaz Sharif on their mutual agreement to restore the judges and added that the community would provide them an opportunity to realize their commitment which could be served simply by removing restrictions on the deposed judges to let them hold the court.
However if leadership of the both the parties, which in sight to form a coalition government, wants the parliamentary course to do the needful, we give them a chance. According to him, the parliament did not need two-thirds majority in this context to bring in an amendment in the Constitution. He said the person who is forcing two-thirds majority is in fact, obliging the parliament to accept the PCO. He said the legal fraternity did not accept the PCO and was committed on putting the ‘genuine arbiters’ back to their courts.
“CJP Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhary alongwith his three kids has been confined to the four walls of his house for over the last three and a half months. During the period his kids have not only been denied access to the school but the whole family has been subjected to supply cut of electricity, water and gas at their residence,” the SCBA President said. “This is height of oppression,” he said, adding: a caretaker minister is asking the Chief Justice to vacate the official residence.” Amid loud sound of ‘shame’ from the audience against the alleged demand of the minister, Aitzaz said, Justice Chaudhry was still the Chief Justice but Pervez Musharraf was no more an army chief and asked the minister to get the army house vacated from him instead.

 A test of leadership

ED

WHILE the voters have foiled all conspiracies on the part of the powers that be to keep the PPP and PML(N) out of power, it is up to the leadership of the two parties now to form a strong government through mutual accommodation or miss their chance by once again indulging in the type of infighting that proved disastrous for them before. The country had hailed the mutual accommodation shown by them after the elections which resulted in the PPP, PML(N) and ANP agreeing to form coalition governments at the Centre and in the provinces. They had also reached an understanding on calling for a UN-led probe into the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and the reinstatement of the deposed judges with the modus operandi to be decided by Parliament. It would be in their best interest not to make moves that could vitiate the prevailing atmosphere of trust.
There being nearly a hundred independent members in the National and Provincial Assemblies, it is natural for the PPP and PML-N to approach them. There are also reports of forward blocs emerging in the pro-Musharraf PML. Other components of the erstwhile ruling coalition, like the MQM, PML-F, BNP-A and NPP, are also keen to throw their weight behind whosoever forms the government. So is the badly battered JUI-F. One can understand the need for the largest possible alliance to deal with the after-effects of the eight-year-long rule by a General. Representatives of some of these parties have met Mr Zardari, Mian Nawaz and Mr Asfandyar Wali, which is by no means unusual. What needs to be clearly understood, however, is that nothing should be done by the two major winners that can create misunderstanding between them. Unless this is ensured, anti-democratic forces waiting in the wings would initiate their favourite game of playing one major party against another, as they did from 1988 to 1999, paving way for the military coup. A statement attributed to Mr Zardari that he was pondering over forming government in Punjab can give birth to suspicions among the PML(N) leadership. It would be unfortunate if the PPP did to the PML(N) what was done to it in 2002 by the pro-Musharraf parties in Sindh. A few days back the media carried a news attributed to Mian Nawaz calling on the PPP to nominate a particular party leader as future Prime Minister. Had it not been urgently contradicted by the PML(N) leader, it would have been rightly considered an intervention in the internal affairs of a friendly party.
Whatever new additions are made to the PPP and PML(N)-centred alliance should be with the aim of restoring the Constitution as it was before the military takeover in 1999. Article 58-2(b) and the measures taken after the imposition of the state of Emergency, including the removal of the judges, must go. The lure of power must not lead either of the two parties to deviate from the goal.

 

 

THE NATION
ED
Unedifying pressure

THE uncompromising stand of the PML(N) leadership against any continued role of the President in the coming political set-up and the general hostility found against him among other opposition parties, particularly the PPP that has emerged with the largest number of seats in the National Assembly, have prompted the American and British Ambassadors at Islamabad to make a flurry of contacts with them to see whether these two parties, which between them command a simple majority in the House, could be brought round to spare some niche for him. While Mr Asif Ali Zardari and Mian Nawaz Sharif have demanded through public statements that the President should take a cue from the people’s verdict and quit, the PPP’s somewhat different position on the reinstatement of the deposed judges could be construed as leaving some room for a possible accommodation with him, though, the insistence of the PML(N) that the PPP’s high command has first to commit to their reinstatement before it could join hands in government formation complicates the situation and Mr Zardari might have to either harden his stand or explore other options.
The election results must have come as quite a surprise for the US, that did not expect the pro-Musharraf party could have such a humiliating fate in store for it. Hence the series of meetings of Western envoys with the winning sides. But one should have thought that, as proponents of democracy, the Western countries would let the process set in motion by the elections proceed to its logical conclusion without any pressure or interference, but they seem to be blinded by their over-riding concern about terrorism in the region, to fighting which, they believe, the President’s hold on power is crucial. The remsrk by US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher, “We look forward to working with whoever emerges as Prime Minister and look forward to working with President Musharraf in his new role,” though apparently innocuous, also stems from Washington’s anxiety in this regard. According to the disclosure in The New York Times, the Pentagon had only recently secured Pakistan’s consent to permit its drones to strike at suspected targets on Pakistani soil and the apprehension now is that this secret deal might be in jeopardy or could be held in abeyance.
The US must realise that its interference in an issue about which the people feel so strongly could only strengthen their hatred of it and create further hurdles in the War On Terror. The voter expects the would-be ruling parties to honour the commitments they made before the polls.

THE NATION
ED
Cause for complaint

THE caretaker set-up’s decision to extend the tenure of some of its favourite officials and to order the transfers of others is a cause for alarm. Some personal friends and cronies have thus been provided key slots in the administration. The issue of appointments, extensions and transfers should be left to the elected representatives of the people. The measures it has taken only point to its desire to maintain a more permanent foothold in the post-election scenario. Such measures would not only add fuel to the fire of public anger built over the years against the regime but would also make things difficult for the next government to handle. In official and political parlance, holding a public office is usually equated with running a fiefdom. And it is unfortunate that nothing has been done over the years to change this mindset. Our country can only have strong and viable institutions if the rulers give up their desire to stay permanently in power and reconcile themselves to the idea that holding public office is a great responsibility.
In a clear violation of the constitutional and democratic spirit, the caretaker set-up turned a blind eye to its principal obligation of ensuring the conduct of free, fair and transparent general elections. While it was mandated to play a non-partisan role and transfer power smoothly to the elected representatives of the people, it failed to do so. And the charges of massive pre-poll rigging simply went abegging.
Equally sad was the decision to re-arrest SCBA president Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan after he had completed 90 days of house arrest under the MPO, which identifies the caretakers with the PML(Q), piloted by the President, who seemed to have given it a carte blanche. Given the uncertainties of the post-election situation, the caretakers must respect their paramount assignment of abiding by the Constitution and demonstrating a democratic spirit.

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3 Comments »

  1. […] unknown wrote an engrossing place today onHere’s a hurried excerptBy the hold of hundreds of lawyers, he uttered his anxiety belief that the PCO was totally unconstitutional and a movement which Musharraf pursued overstepping his powers for which he was not competent. “Lawyers don’t accept the PCO … […]

    Pingback by Lawyers committed to bring genuine arbiters back: Aitzaz | Right Lawyers — February 24, 2008 @ 2:26 am | Reply

  2. After the long dark nights we will see the new dawn with a promise that no contitutional offender will dare playing with the precious leagel document. I slute the Lawyers, Media personale and the honorably deposed judges who stood up against all odds to bring in long awaited change in this hearts of a dying society. The Public of Pakistan has given a clear verdict now those who are sitting at the helm of the affairs should relise that this is the time to Step down, enough is enough. Pakistani society has emerged in these horrifying moments of crisis therefore the decision given by them should be taken as an eye opener to all those who do not intend to see.
    Wishing all the very best for my country and the New born Nation.

    Comment by Tahseen Alam Khan — February 29, 2008 @ 11:13 am | Reply

  3. After the long dark nights we will see the new dawn with a promise that no contitutional offender will dare playing with the precious leagel document. I slute the Lawyers, Media personale and the honorable deposed judges who stood up against all odds to bring in long awaited change in the hearts of a dying society. The Public of Pakistan has given a clear verdict now those who are sitting at the helm of the affairs should relise that this is the time to Step down, enough is enough. Pakistani society has emerged in these horrifying moments of crisis therefore the decision given by them should be taken as an eye opener to all those who do not intend to see.
    Wishing all the very best for my country and the New born Nation.

    Comment by Tahseen Alam Khan — February 29, 2008 @ 11:14 am | Reply


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