Setting the PPP record straight

Published: January 19, 2013
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The writer is general-secretary of PPP 
in Sindh

The writer is general-secretary of PPP in Sindh

Ms Amina Jilani in her article “Suffering fools gladly” (January 12) has made sweeping remarks about the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) that have no relevance to facts. In the face of allegations like “Neither party has the slightest commitment to democracy or to an independent judiciary”, it becomes necessary to set the record straight.

The historic martyrdoms, imprisonments and brutal torture suffered by the PPP’s leadership and workers at the hands of military dictators, ever since the PPP’s creation, are universally acknowledged. Our support for the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments — while we were in opposition, facing large-scale persecution and, following the insistence of President Asif Ali Zardari, empowering the office of the prime minister and parliament whilst reducing the powers of the president through the Eighteenth Amendment — are testimony to our continued commitment to democracy. The consensual appointment of the chief election commissioner and the efforts being made to hold free and fair elections speak for themselves. However, a lot of confusion has been created about our firm commitment towards an independent judiciary.

During military regimes, the PPP has suffered greatly at the hands of a subservient and highly politicised judiciary that was always more than willing to provide legal validation to violations of the Constitution by dictators. The existence of a free and politically impartial judiciary was, therefore, besides being a moral priority, also a political necessity. This concern was brought forth while we were negotiating the signing of the charter of democracy with the PML-N.

It is a matter of record that the PPP remained in the forefront in the struggle for restoration of judiciary during General (retd) Pervez Musharraf’s regime. After coming into power, the PPP circulated a draft proposal of the Eighteenth Amendment. Paragraph 75 of this draft clearly stated that all judges, including the chief justice, would be restored to the positions they held on November 3, 2007. Unfortunately, this was conveniently ignored, both by the right wing parties and the media.

In the absence of a constitutional amendment, the government finally found a legal way to restore judges to their earlier positions. This was to be done by taking fresh oaths. Fifty-eight out of 64 judges opted for this provision. It is surprising that in our country, where a prime minister was hanged with a single-vote majority, a method approved by 58 out of 64 judges was considered illegal. Judges were being restored and assuming responsibilities of their high offices on the one hand, while on the other, the right wing political parties and a large section of the media was questioning our integrity and sincerity. It was argued that it only took an executive order to restore Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to his former position. Even if this argument was right, we did not have the power to sack or demote the incumbent chief justice, Abdul Hameed Dogar, through an executive order. Also, the country could not have two chief justices of the Supreme Court working simultaneously. We could only bring in Chief Justice Chaudhry without a fresh oath when the term of office of Justice Dogar had ended. This position was communicated and assurances were given to the PML-N through a committee of most senior leaders of other parties, who wanted an end to the needless confrontation.

The unfortunate perception about a politicised judiciary has been strengthened in the public mind. It hurts when senior lawyers who had always been at the forefront of the struggle for the independence of judiciary publicly criticise it and even go to the extent of accusing it of trying to bring about judicial dictatorship. Pakistan deserves courts that are genuinely respected and no far-sighted politician or citizen would opt for a course that runs contrary to this objective. In context of the aforementioned, Ms Jilani’s sweeping remark that we do not have the slightest commitment to democracy or to an independent judiciary, is surprising.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 19th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (20)

  • iLiberal
    Jan 19, 2013 - 12:31AM

    What a farce of an article. How about writing an article on how PPP has ruined Pakistan in the last 5 years, guy? Military rules have always fared better than this democracy that you have imposed on us Pakistanis. Maybe you could also mention how religious bigotry was actually started by Bhutto and not Zia when he declared Qadyanis as kaafirs. Or how about massive corruption done by BB “Shaheed” and her husband who is now the president of Pakistan. Have you jiyalas have no shame or integrity that you cannot admit your follies and how your four governments have been so destructive for Pakistan? Recommend

  • Ricky
    Jan 19, 2013 - 1:45AM

    Sad to say but we don’t care about constitution and democracy. We believe in merciful kings and sheiks and somebody coming in to change our plight. Petrol and gas are scarce don’t worry one of us could run it all on water. A Canadian on welfare and public charity can spend millions on just a protective stage while most freeze in the cold. This balloon popped but there would be another one who would double our money and defeat all our enemies without us fighting!

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  • Jan 19, 2013 - 6:56AM

    I am sorry Taj sb but you have hardly got a case to make!
    Good attempt though.

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  • someone
    Jan 19, 2013 - 9:31AM

    Commitment to democracy? What a joke!

    A party that is hereditary, the chairman not even of age selected because of a will. He even had to change his name from Zardari to Bhutto to be accepted in the party.

    If you were the least bit sincere about democracy you would have done something about the local bodies election. Democracy lies in devolution, not in having a cabal of marauders loot and pillage this fine country.

    And when an institution dare stand up to you and try to enforce some level of rule of law you accuse it of being politicized. You attack it, disobey and ridicule it.

    So please don’t peddle this self deluding account of your great services to this country. The last five years will always be remembered as a blight on this nation, a sickness and darkness the kinds of which everyone will pray we never see again.

    Some day, you all will be held accountable for what you did. Perhaps then you will show some remorse, some regret for what greed made you do.

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  • usmanyy
    Jan 19, 2013 - 9:54AM

    sir, do you or don’t you hold intra-party elections? do you have DEMOCRACY in your own party?

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  • Concerned Citizen
    Jan 19, 2013 - 11:08AM

    It wasn’t the PPP who restored the Judges… it was the lawyers movement which forced the PPP to restore the Judges. Get your facts straight!

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  • F Khan
    Jan 19, 2013 - 12:08PM

    With due respect to Taj Saheb I am from Karachi like him and my every day issue is can I and my children come back home safe everyday. PPP is hands and gloves with MQM and ANP of the present criminalization of Karachi for the last 5 years.To me constitution, parliament and democracy is all secondary.

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  • In Pain
    Jan 19, 2013 - 12:38PM

    PPP should be re-labeled as the Pakistan Pity Party…oh so we went to jail, oh so were persecuted, oh so our leaders were killed & hanged…so now the people of this nation should feel sorry and vote for us!! That is the only history this party has! This is shallowest form of politics and signature PPP style. Why can’t this party fight on principles? Why not ever state what they have aceheived for the country?! for the people?? I wonder who will have to be killed this time around to gather some sympathy votes! Taj Sb. for you to start your argument on the premise of how PPP has been persecuted in the past reflects on your party’s pety thought process….fact is there is nothing else to remember about the PPP other than that their leaders and followers were persecuted and thatthey scoundered the country’s wealth, drove around in their Pajeros trampling the masses, threw bones at the masses while they munched on the meat, tore down the systems and set new records of corruption… and they even blame their mis-doings on the public because the public was stupid enough to vote them back to power….A PPP MNA the other day on TV when asked about fake degrees and tax evassion said “If the people vote for us knowing that we have fake degrees and don’t pay taxes, then what’s the Election Comission’s problem…we are chosen by the ppl, ECP can’t disqualify us!” so as long as we keep the ppl un-educated and suppressed, the Game is on….El Classico!! I love this party!

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  • ishrat salim
    Jan 19, 2013 - 12:41PM

    @F Khan:
    Exactly….what democracy & this govt has given to the poor mass ? do not have gas, do not have, petrol, do not have electricity & do not have security to life..? what else is positive from this govt of last 5 years ?

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  • Golden horde
    Jan 19, 2013 - 12:45PM

    You r well respested taj sahib.
    But sadly, Your party is corrupt to the core and incompetent to the hilt. Ppp and pmln hav given nothin bu darkness and must be rejected. There is no other way.

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  • arcane
    Jan 19, 2013 - 1:51PM

    Oh Please!!!! just for once stop whining about matyrdom and imprisonment, you are not giving anyone any favor you are servant of the people of Pakistan, you are free to stay aside and live quitely but please dont tell us that it was because of people of Pakistan and democracy.

    You have been in power for five long years how many laws made during military regimes have you repealed? we are living in fear, there’s no one to protrect us. I have lost all respect for PPP I once had. Especially to so called intellectuals like you who now listen to a toddler who has become the party leader. Pathetic.

    Hail to Ms Amina Jilani!!! Good work!!

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  • Shah
    Jan 19, 2013 - 2:19PM

    what about killers of Benazir??

    IMDAD ALI SHAH
    Resident of NA-207 LARKANA

    CURRENTLY DUBAI UAE

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  • Jan 19, 2013 - 5:25PM

    The PPP came to power the first time by rejecting the results of a widely regarded Free and Fair election, opting to side with the military in its operation against the Awami League. It then dissolved assemblied in the NWFP and Balochistan where it did not have majorities, and declared the main opposition party (the NAP) to be traitors and outlawed them.

    Much later the tradition was reignited when it declared Governor rule and dissolved provincial assemblied in Punjab recently.

    Like any other power, the PPP loves democracy when it means they will win. Otherwise, they too will fight tooth and nail to prevent it!

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  • Wajih Abbasi
    Jan 19, 2013 - 5:31PM

    A rightly argued article. Actually some of the political parties especially those from right used the judges case to get easy publicity. They are still doing the same without knowing what impact their policies and actions will have on the country in the long run.
    PPP too failed to devise a clear strategy and put their view in clear manner. A better option would have been to restore Justice Choudhry and his remaining companions, who had not taken fresh oath, through a constitutional amendment.

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  • Aijaz Haider
    Jan 19, 2013 - 5:39PM

    “It was argued that it only took an executive order to restore Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to his former position.”
    This was repeatedly said by your Aitezaz Hasan.
    Respected sir, why was the restoration announced at around 5 am in the morning while a long march to Islamabad was underway?

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  • Parvez
    Jan 19, 2013 - 10:45PM

    What Amina Jilani has said in her article is spot on.
    Sir, your (PPP’s) agenda on paper may sound good but your execution is deliberately flawed and as such ground reality is very different from what you claim.Recommend

  • Taimoor
    Jan 19, 2013 - 11:21PM

    Cry me a river!!! thats all you’re good at.

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  • Sajjad Hussain
    Jan 20, 2013 - 12:15AM

    What does Taj Sahib mean by right wing parties? Don’t tell me he thinks PPP is a left wing party.

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  • shahid
    Jan 20, 2013 - 12:52AM

    There is no end to self delusion …

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  • CK
    Jan 22, 2013 - 2:09PM

    The US Dollar was 60 when PPP came into power and now it’s 100. The rest I leave to you..

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