SC order calls into question ‘president, PM’s election’

Omar conveys to US envoy PTI’s opposition to foreign interference

Rizwan Shehzad   May 07, 2024
The Supreme Court of Pakistan. PHOTO: APP/FILE


Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Omar Ayub, while referring to the Supreme Court’s order the allocation of reserved seats, on Monday said the whole parliamentary exercise had been rendered controversial.

“The elections of the prime minister, National Assembly speaker and the deputy speaker as well as the president have become controversial,” the opposition leader said while talking to the media after holding a meeting with US Ambassador Donald Blome.

The Supreme Court on Monday suspended the PHC’s verdict denying the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) — the new home for PTI lawmakers-elect — reserved seats for women and minorities. The development came as a three-member bench — headed by Justice Mansoor Ali Shah and including Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Athar Minallah — took up an SIC appeal against the PHC order.

In this context, Ayub demanded the elections should be re-conducted. “This government neither has the mandate nor the guts to take tough decisions.”

Earlier during his meeting with the envoy, the opposition leader conveyed him that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was against external interference in Pakistan.

In his first meeting with the US envoy, the opposition leader discussed a host of issues. It, however, confirmed to the media that the issue of the party founder’s release from jail was not discussed during the meeting. He, however, added that the PTI leadership conveyed to the US ambassador that cases against Imran and senior party leaders were “bogus”.

The opposition leader, along with PTI chairman Barrister Gohar Khan, former National Assembly speaker Asad Qaiser and PTI spokesperson Raoof Hasan, met the US ambassador at his chamber in parliament.

“We do not tolerate interference of any country in the internal affairs of Pakistan,” Ayub shared with the media after his meeting with the US official, saying the PTI leadership conveyed to the envoy the importance of rule of law in the country.

Read High-stakes hearings scheduled at SC next week

In response to a question if the PTI leadership discussed Imran’s release with the US envoy, Ayub replied: “Neither can the US ambassador help secure anyone’s release in Pakistan nor will we put our reservations before the ambassador of any country.” “We are patriotic people and believe in rule of law.”

He said, “Nations have a shared interest,” adding, “The US, being a strong supporter of democracy, acknowledges that there should be rule of law.”

Ayub said no discussion about the cipher or the regime change took place during the meeting. Sharing that things in this regard have repeatedly been discussed in courts and the media, he, however, told journalists that Imran Khan was specifically targeted in line with the alleged “London Plan” -- a plan that the PTI alleges was made in London to give relief to PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and grill the PTI.

On the arrival of Saudi Arabia’s delegation in Pakistan, Ayub said that “the PTI welcomes the Saudi delegation and want them to invest in the country”.

The opposition leader said the investment would come from the US, China, Russia or any other country when “there is the supremacy of the Constitution; law and order prevail and judiciary is strong in Pakistan”, saying the world should support the rule of law here.

During the media talk, Ayub revealed that the US embassy had sent a “note verbale” – a diplomatic note – to the Foreign Office, stating that the US envoy wishes to meet leader of the opposition in the National Assembly. He added that the PTI responded by saying that the US envoy was welcomed for the meeting via official channel, clarifying that the meeting took place in that context.

Without revealing much, Ayub said that the PTI raised the issue of Pakistan giving bases to the US in the meeting. Referring to the Foreign Office recent reply dismissing speculations that Pakistan was providing military bases to the United States or any other country, he said that the issue would be raised in the National Assembly through a calling attention notice.

On the wheat scandal, Ayub, while recalling the Punjab government spokesperson’s statement that blamed the interim government for the crisis, said that the former chief minister has now become the interior minister as well as a senator with the votes of the ruling parties, saying all those involved should be investigated.


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