Pak govt does not
believe in 3 SC judges,
boycott court proceedings,
new joint action plan


ISLAMABAD: Hours after seeing its request for a full bench in petitions related to the Punjab chief minister’s election turned down by the Supreme Court, leaders of the coalition government on Monday expressed its “lack of confidence” in the court’s existing three-member bench and announced it would boycott its proceedings in the case.

ISLAMABAD: Maulana Fazlur Rehman and other key leaders of the coalition government say they reject the SC’s decision to not form a full court bench in petitions related to Punjab CM election.

“Our lawyers recommended a [full court] bench but unfortunately, the bench, instead of reflecting and accepting our advice, rejected it,” said Pakistan Democratic Movement and JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman in a late-night press conference in Islamabad, Dawn has reported.

“Therefore, the allies of all parties want to give a clear stance that if [our request for a ] full court bench is rejected then we, too, reject this decision of the court. We will not appear before this bench for this case and will boycott it.

ISLAMABAD: Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Maryam Nawaz address a joint press conference on Monday 25th July.

“We also want to say that there is a long history in this political system of such decisions by the judges that have created instability and destroyed the continuation of government policies, which has also created the economic crisis.

“This government wants no institution to interfere in the work that impacts the administrative functioning. Otherwise, we will advise the prime minister and the parliament to legislate so that the public’s trust in courts [could be restored].”

ISLAMABAD: Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari Maryam Nawaz and other leaders are present at a press conference.

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari reaffirmed the boycott call, saying that the demand for a full court was for the sake of the Constitution, democracy and the court’s own integrity.

“This case is about the parliament and when you are giving decisions about an institution, we think your entire institution should sit and decide,” he said seemingly addressing the chief justice.

“Had a full court listened to us then the entire country would’ve accepted your decision.”

PML-N Vice President Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said it was a “test” for the apex court since it was a requirement of justice that a judge or bench recuse themselves from a case in which fingers were raised on them.

“This is done in every court in the world where there is rule of law and the constitution,” he said.

Abbasi said the three judges of the existing bench had the responsibility to decide whether or not the history would accept their conduct.

The press conference followed a huddle of the government leaders at the Prime Minister House after the Supreme Court’s verdict.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl chief Maulana Fazl Rehman, PPP Chairman and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari are among the senior political leaders and government figures in attendance.

Leaders of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan, members of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid, Awami National Party, Balochistan Awami Party, Balochistan National Party and other government-allied parties are also present at the huddle, along with PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz and other senior PML-N figures.

The coalition meeting resolved to not back down from its demand for a full court and also decided upon its future strategy in light of the apex court’s decision. The government leaders agreed to move forward with a joint plan of action.

Demand of full court hearing

Earlier, leaders of Pakistan’s ruling coalition on Monday demanded a full court bench to hear a high-profile case related to the recent election of the Punjab chief minister while holding a joint news conference in the federal capital.

The election, which was held on Friday, went in favour of Hamza Shehbaz, the candidate for the ruling coalition and son of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, after the deputy speaker of the Punjab Assembly invalidated 10 votes cast against him by the provincial lawmakers belonging to the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) party.

The deputy speaker, Dost Mohammad Mazari, said his ruling was based on a recent Supreme Court verdict which endorsed the idea of disqualifying legislators for voting against their party line.

Mazari gave his ruling in the matter soon after the voting in the chief minister’s election, quoting a letter written to him by the top PML-Q leader, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, which asked his party lawmakers to support Shehbaz instead of his rival and Hussain’s cousin, Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi.

Speaking at the outset of the news conference, the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) vice president, Maryam Sharif, claimed some judges of the top court had a soft corner for former prime minister Imran Khan and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.

She maintained there were only a handful of judges who were hearing petitions related to significant political developments, adding that some of them had also given verdicts against her party and its leaders in the past.

“I can write an essay in praise of the judiciary,” she said, “but one wrong [court] verdict will undermine the whole argument.”

The PML-N vice president, who spoke at length about recent court rulings, said she was stopped from publicly taking up such issues by several people ahead of the news conference, though she added it was important for people’s representatives to think beyond their self-interest and protect the rights of others.

She also questioned the top court’s description of Shehbaz as the “trustee chief minister” of Punjab.

As the country’s apex court prepared to look into the case related to the election of the Punjab chief minister, a 37-member provincial cabinet was sworn in at a ceremony held at the Governor House in Lahore on Sunday evening.

The top leader of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) alliance, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, endorsed Sharif’s statement while calling for full court hearing in the case. Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari also reiterated the same demand while addressing the news conference. “It is not possible that only three people determine the future of the country,” he said.