While the opposition lashed out at the National Assembly Speaker for ruling in favour of the prime minister following his conviction in a contempt case, support was not forthcoming from the allied parties either – some supported the decision, most refused to comment.
“It’s quite sad that Speaker National Assembly Dr Fehmida Mirza has also become a part of the lobby which is bent upon disobeying Supreme Court’s verdict against Prime Minister Gilani,” said Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, referring to Mirza’s decision on the prime minister’s disqualification.
“The speaker has misused her position and has just moved to save a single person,” he said.
Speaking to the media in Islamabad, Khan maintained that Prime Minister Gilani was convicted by a bench of the apex court, and his disqualification was announced by a seven-member bench unanimously.
“Seven judges have convicted Gilani of contempt of court while the NA Speaker says there is no question of disqualification,” he said.
Khan added that as per law, the case should be sent to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
“ECP officials are neutral and the case should be reviewed by them,” he said.
Calling Mirza’s decision “weak,” Khan said that the case of Javed Hashmi cited by her was irrelevant.
“Javed Hashmi was convicted by a lower court, whereas Gilani was convicted by the highest court,” Khan said.
He added that the NA Speaker failed to provide solid examples to support her decision from Pakistan, or abroad.
Parties that fully endorsed the speaker’s decision include FATA parliamentarians and the Awami National Party (ANP). Secretary Information ANP Zahid Khan, commenting on the speaker’s decision, said, “She is a mature legislator and must have moved in accordance with the law after having discussed it with top legal experts. Zahid advised the opposition PML-N to abandon the politics of confrontation for the sake of democracy.
Fata parliamentarians said that if institutions do not work within their ambit, the country would be at the verge of collapse.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) spokesperson Wasay Jalil said the MQM does not want to comment on the issue since the matter is sub-judice.
When asked about solidarity shown by the MQM with the premier the day he was convicted, Jalil said his party’s ministers were formally requested by the prime minister to accompany him to the Supreme Court for the hearing.
Jamaat-e-Islami General Secretary Liaquat Baloch said the speaker is the custodian of the house, but through her ruling in this case, she has acted more like a custodian of the Pakistan Peoples Party.
Baloch said that parliament has to respect the decision of apex court; otherwise it will open another chapter of confrontation with the judiciary. The JUI-F, however, remained silent over the development and did not comment when contacted.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 25th, 2012.
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