Home Latest News P.M. Sharif Calls for Legislation to Uphold Rule of Law

P.M. Sharif Calls for Legislation to Uphold Rule of Law

Speaking on floor of the House, premier rubbishes any dialogue with Imran Khan until the PTI chief apologizes to the public

by Staff Report

Photo courtesy PID

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday urged lawmakers to legislate for “upholding the rule of law,” warning that the public would “not forgive” them if they did not respond to calls for reforms from within the Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan.

Addressing a joint sitting of Parliament, he described a dissenting note issued by two judges of the apex court that had questioned the unilateral powers of the chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) as a “ray of hope.” Reiterating the government view—validated by the note—that four of seven members of a bench had rejected the maintainability of a suo motu notice, he said Parliament must exercise its mandate to legislate by making laws that facilitated the much-needed reforms to the judiciary.

Stressing that if the House did not play its role in enacting the “needed” changes to the suo motu authority of the CJP, the nation would not forgive them, he added: “Today, we must decide whether we want to help the millions of people in this country or we want to facilitate one favorite.” He also urged the CJP to order the forensic analysis of an audio leak in which a sitting judge of a Supreme Court can allegedly be heard discussing political matters.

Referring to the chaos witnessed when Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan was set to appear before a trial court in Islamabad earlier this month, the prime minister lamented that a certain “favorite” refused to appear before any court despite multiple summons. “He gets an extension in different courts in the dark of night and makes a mockery of the judiciary,” he alleged, noting that no action had been taken against Khan despite his threatening remarks for a sitting woman judge.

“Khan made false cases against the opposition when he was in government and signed an agreement with the IMF [International Monetary Fund] and violated it,” he reiterated, maintaining that the PTI chief had been “blackmailing the judiciary through violent tactics.” Accusing the former prime minister of not recognizing the law and Constitution in refusing to surrender before courts, he said Khan had resorted to attacking law enforcers to avoid the courts.

Slamming Khan for “pushing the country toward bankruptcy,” he maintained that the “tough” decisions taken by the ruling coalition had “saved” the country. “Today, the IMF is taking guarantees from us at every step. We have fulfilled all the conditions of the IMF. Congratulations to the finance minister who finalized the terms of the deal with the fund,” he said of the long-pending staff-level agreement that has yet to be finalized and would unlock the release of a $1.1 billion tranche of a $6.5 billion bailout.

Polls delay

Urging the House to fulfil its constitutional responsibility to protect the country from prevailing crises, the prime minister stressed that all pillars of the state would have to play their role for this purpose. “Our Constitution clearly protects the separation of powers, while at present, some judicial verdicts are openly violating the Constitution by supporting PTI in all cases,” he alleged, noting that legislation was required to strengthen the rule of law.

On the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP)’s postponing of elections in Punjab from April 30 to Oct. 8, Sharif hailed the decision, saying it had been taken in cognizance of the resurgence of terrorism in the country. “No political party can run away from elections, as polls are the beauty of a democracy,” he added.

No talks without apology

During his speech, the prime minister also hit out at calls for dialogue between the government and the PTI, stressing that talks would only be possible if the PTI chief admits his “wrongdoings” and apologizes to the public. Labeling Khan a “fraud,” he said it was “not possible to talk” with someone who had “looted the country, attacked the judiciary and did not believe in the Constitution and justice.”

Recalling that Khan had repeatedly rejected invitations for talks in the past—on COVID-19, terrorism, Kashmir—he said it was difficult to accept the sincerity of any offer at this juncture. “In a democracy, we have no weapons, merely dialogue,” he said, stressing that it was not possible to give in to Khan’s demands. “However,” he admitted, “We are short on time.”

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