Having maintained a public silence on a number of new issues that have cropped up between the government and the judiciary, the president has finally spoken out.
With the contentious new contempt law set to be taken by the apex court, President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday said parliament had every right to enact laws, and would continue to do so in the future. In an apparent retort to remarks by the chief justice of Pakistan who said that the Constitution trumped all institutions, President Zardari said that parliament was supreme as it expressed the will of the people.
Addressing a gathering of ministers, senators, members of the National and Provincial Assemblies (MNAs, MPAs) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)’s divisional and district office bearers at the Sindh Chief Minister House, the president also indirectly rubbished an order by the Lahore High Court to cease using the Presidency for political purposes by September this year. He maintained that his office was a part of parliament under the Constitution and meets with other parliamentarians since ‘parliament was his constituency’. He added that no law barred the president from meeting his constituents. “No one can bar me from meeting with elected representatives of PPP at the President House. You have elected me and I have become president because of your votes,” he said.
The president also said that those who wanted to restrict political forces would not succeed.
He said that it was necessary for the system’s stability that every state institution respected the mandate of other institutions. However, he remained calm about the situation, saying that, while some institutions may, at times, appear to be overstepping their mandate in developing democracies, this was part of the system’s evolution and should not be a matter of concern.
He said that the PPP was not new to the “conspiracies of anti-democratic forces” and had been fighting them for the last four decades, successfully surviving all sorts of “propaganda.” He added that no conspiracies or propaganda can weaken the party.
Meanwhile, President Zardari asked Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah to create more employment opportunities in the province.
He also advised other ministers, legislators and PPP office bearers to maintain contact with the people in order to address their issues.
Referring to the law and order situation in Karachi, President Zardari underscored the need for equipping law-enforcement authorities with state-of-the-art tools to combat criminals in an effective manner.
He said Karachi, being the hub of the country’s economic activities, was also suffering because of the rapid changes at the international level.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2012.
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