With executive-judiciary tensions flaring up again, Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira gave a scathing warning on Wednesday of the consequences of yet another premier being shown the door. The government’s allies, on the other hand, remained cautious while the opposition immediately started clamouring for polls to be held on an urgent basis.
Talking to the media in Islamabad, Kaira said that no institution was entitled to meddle with legislation, saying it was purely the right of parliament. He added that disqualifying another prime minister would create anarchy in the country.
“A final decision regarding Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf’s appearance in the Supreme Court will be taken in consultation with law experts,” the minister said when asked to comment over the rift between the government and judiciary.
Kaira also defended the Contempt of Court Act, saying that the legislation had been drafted with the consensus of allies after detailed consultations.
The information minister said that institutions ran side by side. In spite of his otherwise candid caveat, Kaira said that the government would accept the court’s decision at ‘any cost’, regardless of whether they liked it or not.
Opposition, allies reaction
Meanwhile, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz spokesperson, Senator Mushahidullah Khan, said “Our advice to the government is not to waste any more time and go for polls … this is the only workable option.” The spokesperson for the main opposition party said it was the right of the Supreme Court to interpret laws and the government could not deny it.
“If one pillar of the state tries to pull down the other, there will be a reaction,” Mushahidullah said, referring to the ongoing conflict between the government and the apex court.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) also appeared to be on the same page – party chief Imran Khan demanded that the government announce elections as soon as possible to help steer the country out of the crisis.
“The best thing would be for the government to obey Supreme Court orders … if that is not happening, then elections are the only solution,” PTI spokesperson Shafqat Mahmoud said.
Most allied parties, however, appeared to be shying away from offering any direct comments on the decision.
Only the Awami National Party (ANP) came out in full support of the government, saying the court should not issue directives to the government in isolation and must take into account the country’s crippling economy, which could deteriorate further as a result of the tensions.
“It is the court’s right to decided whatever it wants…but the economy is suffering because of the prime minister being send home every third month,” said ANP senator Haji Muhammad Adeel.
Allied partner Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), meanwhile, remained non-committal. MQM minister Farooq Sattar, while responding to a question about the show cause notice issued to the prime minister, merely underlined the need to dispel the impression that institutions, judiciary and legislature were on the path of confrontation.
Other allies — the Pakistan Muslim League-Q and parliamentarians from tribal regions — refused to give their reaction, saying they needed to consult before commenting.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 9th, 2012.