Presidency meeting: Will a resolute govt re-introduce contempt law?

Published: August 4, 2012
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President Zardari along with prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf attend a meeting of coalition partners. PHOTO: PID/FILE

President Zardari along with prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf attend a meeting of coalition partners. PHOTO: PID/FILE

ISLAMABAD: The ruling party will not back down – and intends to counter the striking down of the contempt act 2012.

If reports are to be believed, a meeting held at the Presidency to discuss the situation following the apex court’s verdict late Friday night has talked of reintroducing the contempt law with a few modifications in the next couple of days.

According to sources, the ambitious proposal foresaw the bulldozing of the law through parliament before August 8 – when Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf could be charged with contempt by the Supreme Court in the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) case for not complying with court orders regarding writing a letter to the Swiss authorities.  Another participant confirmed that this option was being discussed. It was also added that the option of promulgating an Ordinance could also be taken given the short period of time available.

While these reports were source-based, the meeting did issue a strong-worded statement declaring that the ruling alliance would resist any move to undermine the supremacy of parliament. “The meeting expressed its resolve that the right of parliament to legislate will be upheld and this right will not allowed to be compromised no matter what the odds and the cost,” said presidential spokesman Senator Farhatullah Babar.

The spokesman did not mention decision of the court directly, the reference was clear. “The power to legislate under the Constitution belongs to elected representatives alone, the meeting reiterated unequivocally,” said the presidential spokesman.

Little could be known about what other contingency plans the allies have chalked out. The meeting was still under way at the time of filing of report.

Before this statement, senior leaders of the ruling alliance were reluctant to give their reaction. On his way to the meeting at the Presidency, Haji Adeel of ANP did tell The Express Tribune: “we are happy that the judges are united and they give unanimous decisions, especially when it comes to cases against our ruling coalition.”

Chaired jointly by President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, the meeting was attended by Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, Senator Haji Muhammad Adeel, Senator Afrasiab Khattak, Dr Farooq Sattar, Senator Babar Khan Ghouri, Senator Abbas Khan Afridi, Munir Khan Orakzai and Hameedullah Jan Afridi.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 4th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (13)

  • YP Toronto
    Aug 4, 2012 - 5:07AM

    “Good governance never depends upon laws, but upon the personal qualities of those who govern. The machinery of government is always subordinate to the will of those who administer that machinery. The most important element of government, therefore, is the method of choosing leaders.”

    ― Frank Herbert, Children of Dune

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  • Aamir, Toronto
    Aug 4, 2012 - 5:16AM

    I’m sure all those who attended this meeting are the most corrupt politicians who are getting together to protect their mentor (Zardari) and their own personal interest……no one cares about the land of law or constitution.

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  • Imran Con
    Aug 4, 2012 - 5:50AM

    At this point they’re better off not targeting the contempt law directly or even reference it. Take advantage of the vague. Do not even use the word contempt. Instead concentrate on requirements of the jobs of the elected officials. Define their job and make them doing the opposite as the punishable offense.
    They’re over-simplified and prone to flaws since I’m pulling them out of my nether region on the spot but, here’s a couples examples:
    Add the following to what responsibilities are expected of the PM and have them not doing so be punishable by law. It might even make them do some actual work to stay within the description so it even benefits the people now and in the future…
    1. Preserve the integrity of the system across institutions: able to criticize the court because it will involve requiring all individuals to find common ground and be open to compromise. To do so requires verbalizing the things that are disagreed with.
    2. Take no actions that undermine the government’s ability to run uninterrupted and efficiently for the benefit of the people unless there are special circumstances, the severity of which would be decided at the time: able to refuse writing the letter until a later date, putting it on the back burner until a more appropriate time.
    3. etc.

    Like I said, I didn’t spend much time on those examples. I wouldn’t even be surprised if I find something wrong with one or the other a few seconds after hitting the post comment button. It’s just to get the idea across, not actual exact recommendations that should be included.

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  • Usman
    Aug 4, 2012 - 7:41AM

    The new contempt llaw had nothing to do with the supremacy of parliament and everything to do with protecting the corrupt!

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  • Mirza
    Aug 4, 2012 - 8:48AM

    This court has rejected the new law passed by both elected houses in favor of their PCO dictator Mush’s 2003 contempt law proves that they are still following their oaths under PCO. The aiding and abetting in high treason is still ongoing.
    Now that govt has talked and listened to the arguments of various bar councils and of the SC judges it should redraft the law with the help of those who opposed it initially like Dr. Ahsan. They should continue to legislate (their primary responsibility of legislature) and let the PCO judges expose themselves. It would also prove to the world that these judges have a phobia against the elected govt and their only function is to ambush the work of the two houses that people have elected.

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  • Aftab Kenneth Wilson
    Aug 4, 2012 - 9:37AM

    In international markets we see most things labelled as Made In China. Here we see our judges as Made In & for The Establishment. These few judges of both LHC and SC are only ruining the rights of the Parliament. Are they moving forward for ” Judges Rule ” ?????

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  • Ali
    Aug 4, 2012 - 4:56PM

    That black-bill would have been struck down by any thinking court anywhere, except a bannana republic that the PPP would have Pakistan become. What warped view you have! So why did the PPP not fulfill its responsibility of invoking Article 6 against Musharaf when PML-N had publicly declared to support such a PPP move? You have some kind of alternative reality mate!

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  • Ali
    Aug 4, 2012 - 4:59PM

    Mirza o Mirza,

    Its a basic legal principle that any law made for a few is a bad law. Parliament’s job is to legislate in public interest, not in government interest. Discriminatory laws are intrinsically illegal. Shame on the government. They are constitutionally bound to write the letter to the Swiss and if they dont want to, then, they should call for early elections. Simple.

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  • DrA.K,Tewari
    Aug 4, 2012 - 5:27PM

    Army is to protect all the pillars of democracy , the prevailing circumstances the only option left before it is to take the nation in its safe custody till their exist the problem of terrorism which may delay the process of US army withdrawl and election in Pakistan .Army take over is eminent and essential for the re-entry of Musarraf in active politics to give an option to the court and public . At present the constitution is to judges as quaran as to Mullzah .

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  • Khalq e Khuda
    Aug 4, 2012 - 6:48PM

    @Ali:

    How about exempting judges from Court and they being judge of themselves only? Is that not a bad law too?

    Supreme Judicial Council has not held a meeting against any judge despite a number of reference against various judges of High Court and Supreme Court including one for a murder trial!

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  • Farooq
    Aug 5, 2012 - 12:03AM

    @Aamir, Toronto:
    Very well said.

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  • Farooq
    Aug 5, 2012 - 12:06AM

    @Mirza:
    I do not thing you are unbiased when giving such remarks.

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  • HADI SAKEY
    Aug 5, 2012 - 12:20AM

    It is not to provide safety valve to Raja Pervaze Ashraf. To hide one man’s kickback money in foreign exchange there is a turmoil. Farooq Naek will re-draft the law and it will be issued in the shape of an Ordinance. How the legal fraternity will treat it, how the people of Pakistan will treat the revised Ordinance has yet to be seen. One thing is clear the the Prime Minister may be shown the door. I pity Najam Sethi and his counterpart Bachongra- They could not give a real analysis. Sethi outstepped the line rather crossed the red line.

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