A writ petition has been moved in the Lahore High Court seeking to transfer the title and powers of the supreme commander of the armed forces of Pakistan from the president to the army chief.
Tehreek-i-Inqilab Pakistan chairman Advocate Rana Ilmuddin Ghazi filed the petition, contending that the army had been unable to take prompt action to stop the American operation in Abbottabad on May 2 because the power to take such a decision rested with President Asif Zardari and not Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.
The federation, the president and the ministries of foreign affairs, defence and interior are named as respondents in the petition.
Ghazi said that there could not be foolproof security at Pakistan’s borders until all powers were consolidated in the office of the chief of army staff. Such consolidation would enable the army to take prompt action when required to respond to any attack on the territorial borders of Pakistan.
The petitioner argued that Field Marshal Ayub Khan in 1965 was supreme commander of the armed forces when India and Pakistan went to war, and so he was able to take a timely decision “to launch a counterattack and frustrate the evil designs of the enemy”.
He said today President Zardari was the supreme commander of the armed forces and the army was not fully authorised to take decisions about the defence of the country.
Ghazi said any delay in decision making by the president could harm the defence of the border. If there were any attack on the border by the US or India, any blame for failure to take timely action would fall on the army instead of the president, he said, which was unfair.
He asked to the court to accept the petition for regular hearing and pass directions to the federation and president of Pakistan to transfer the powers of the supreme commander of the armed forces to the chief of army staff immediately in the greater national interest.
‘Remove PML-Q members from committee’
The Judicial Activism Panel (JAP) has demanded that the federal government remove the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) members from the parliamentary committee on judges’ appointment as they had joined the committee as opposition members but were now on the treasury benches.
In a resolution passed at an emergency meeting led by chairman Muhammad Azhar Siddique, the JAP also demanded that new opposition members be appointed to the committee in place of the PML-Q members, in line with Article 175 of the Constitution.
The committee is supposed to consist of four members from the treasury benches (two each from the National Assembly and Senate) and four from the opposition benches. Currently, the PML-N and Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal are the only opposition parties in parliament. “If the parliamentary committee is not reconstituted immediately it will further delay the appointment of judges and aggravate litigants’ problems,” said Siddique.
The JAP also asked the Judicial Commission to hold a meeting and form a committee to investigate who had leaked sensitive information compiled by intelligence agencies about lawyers from Lahore to the press.
Siddique said that new judges should be appointed from among the competent and honest lawyers of the Lahore High Court Bar Association, including the association’s Bahawalpur chapter.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 15th, 2011.