The Pakistan Peoples Party is all set to launch an overt offensive against the judiciary with the help of the legal fraternity.
Following the influx of petitions challenging the National Assembly speaker’s ruling on the contempt of court case against Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, the PPP has decided to win the support of lawyers’ associations to exert pressure on the supreme court, The Express Tribune has learnt reliably through some of the PPP leaders.
Sources said the party’s top leadership has asked its legal team to organise a “grand lawyers’ convention” in Lahore, at which “a clear message will be given to the judiciary to stay within its limits and tackle the petitions seeking the premier’s disqualification carefully.”
After NA Speaker Fehmida Mirza acquitted the premier in her ruling, Gilani has been holding regular meetings with the lawyers’ community and political leaders. It is said that Gilani himself will look into the matter and has been assured of support from the legal fraternity. The PPP leadership, the sources said, was expecting that the Supreme Court would hear the petitions of the PML-N and the PTI against the speaker’s ruling on June 8.
The convention will mean that the PPP is no mood to deliver its intended message in a subtle way.
Punjab Governor Sardar Latif Khan Khosa said that the party had succeeded in mustering support of the office-bearers of the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) and the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA).
Latif Khosa, while talking to The Express Tribune here at the Governor’s House, confirmed that the party was planning a convention which he hoped would be “attended by thousands of lawyers.”
He said that if the court did entertain applications against the speaker’s ruling, then the PPP would voice its resentment in legal and political quarters. “I hope the convention will give a meaningful message to the judiciary.” Gilani’s political adviser Fawad Hussain Chaudhry said that the convention would be held in Lahore, which, according to the PPP’s assessment, would be attended by around 6,000 lawyers.
SCBA President Yasin Azad said only the SCBA or the PBC could call a lawyers’ convention at the national level. He added that the PPP lawyers’ forum could call a convention of their own, but that if the platform was used against the judiciary then the move would backfire.
On the other hand, a delegation of the PBC, led by its Vice-Chairman Akhtar Hussain, called on Gilani at the PM House in Islamabad on Thursday.
The delegation reiterated its commitment to democracy and said that every institution needed to work within the parameters defined in the constitution to avoid confrontation with one another.
On the occasion, the prime minister announced a grant of Rs100 million for the establishment of a Benevolent Fund Scheme for lawyers. He also announced Rs0.5 million each for two ailing lawyers suffering from cancer.
Sources also said that a resolution might also be passed by the lawyers’ convention in which it would demand of the supreme court to entertain a petition seeking Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s disqualification on grounds of his being elected as an MPA from two constituencies simultaneously.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 2nd, 2012.