Justice Isa addresses NCC, says SC stands with Constitution | The Express Tribune


ISLAMABAD:

Senior puisne judge of the Supreme Court, Justice Qazi Faez Isa, in a “non-political speech” addressed the National Constitution Convention (NCC) on Monday saying the apex court stands with the Constitution.

The National Assembly, under the leadership of Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf, is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Constitution of Pakistan 1973, a landmark document that laid the foundation of a democratic and progressive society in the country.

The anniversary also comes as the country’s top institutions butt heads with political, economic and constitutional crises all raising the spectre of instability.

Justice Isa finds himself in the middle of an ongoing tussle and deepening divisions within the apex court, made glaringly obvious by the events over the past few weeks surrounding the SC.

The senior judge in his speech, however, maintained that he was present at the NCC “not to deliver a political speech” but because he wanted to state that he and the SC stood behind the Constitution. He also said his colleagues may have not chosen to come due to prior commitments.

He also distanced himself from the “political statements” made at the forum explaining that “it may be that the cases of those in attendance might come before my court and I might have to decide against them”.

Read Judiciary, executive trying to cool frayed tempers

Holding a copy of the Constitution in one hand, Justice Isa said “this book is our identity, it is Pakistan’s identity.”

Addressing the attendees of the convention, the SC judge said that all participants were politicians who looked at matters through a perspective, which was different from his as he looked at all issues through the lens of the law.

He maintained that the parliament and the bureaucracy should be focused on serving the people and lamented that “sometimes we don’t hate our enemies as much as we hate each other” as he questioned the reasoning for such behaviour.

“Our job is to make decisions according to the law and the Constitution and your job is to make laws which are beneficial for the people. The job of the executive is to implement the said laws and policies.”

Commending the premier for designating April 10 as the National Constitution Day, Justice Isa urged the participants to embrace the Constitution as it “talks about the people’s basic rights. The most important thing the Constitution talks about is people’s basic rights.”

The SC judge added that Pakistan’s Constitution talked about certain fundamental rights that were not talked about in many other countries.

Concluding his speech, Justice Isa thanked the participants and emphasised that his “institution were also defenders of the Constitution”. He added that all have taken an oath to defend the Constitution and if he does not, he should be critisised.

Justice Isa further reiterated that he had no connection with any political discussions during the day’s gathering.

Shehbaz passes Constitution resolution

The resolution presented by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on the Golden Jubilee of the Constitution of Pakistan was approved while the government announced to April 10 as Constitution Day, every year.

The convention was held in connection with the 50th anniversary of the Constitution. The premier presented the resolution after a short speech.

While reading the resolution, PM Shehbaz stated that the Constitution declared that the supreme sovereignty belonged only to Allah Almighty and the people of Pakistan, through their elected representatives, should exercise this authority within the limits set by Allah (S.W.T).

He continued that the 1973 Constitution approved by the National Assembly on April 10, 1973 was the expression of the hopes and aspirations of the people of Pakistan, and a reflection of the vision of the founders of Pakistan including Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Allama Iqbal.

“Democracy has principles of equality, freedom and justice,” he said.

Shehbaz stated that the Constitution was a unique manifestation of the diversity and unity of Pakistan, and recognized the rights and autonomy of the provinces while ensuring the political unity of the federation.

He added that the Constitution was the source of guidance and commitment to the parliament and the administration for the supremacy of constitutional principles, the rule of law and the protection of human rights.

The prime minister said that the Constitution of 1973 was amended over the years to meet the changing needs and aspirations of the people of Pakistan, while ensuring that it retained its effectiveness over time.

He furthered that today was a very important day in the history of Pakistan as during the passage of 50 years wherein the Constitution was amended at different times, it was still alive despite facing various dictatorships.

Shehbaz said that this “historical achievement “ would be written in golden letters and those who played a role in constructing the Constitution would always be remembered. He added that the names of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Wali Khan, Shah Ahmed Noorani and other leaders were worth mentioning.

He stated that there were many flaws with current day politicians and highlighted that the coalition government had completed one year in office. He maintained that the coalition government had done well in the past year.

He continued that the Constitution had kept the four provinces in the same category, adding that when the coalition took over the government it did not expect the situation in the country to be “so serious”.

Moreover, he remarked that all political parties would go to the elections according to their own manifesto.

Bilawal decries ‘plans of undemocratic forces

Foreign Minister and PPP chair Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that there was a “plan” to bring a selected army chief, chief justice and prime minister into power in Pakistan.

Addressing the golden jubilee ceremony, the minister said that dictators set up fake politicians and puppets, and undemocratic forces want the incompetent and ‘selected’ to be imposed on the nation again.

He continued that these undemocratic forces wanted the 18th Amendment to be annulled, and one unit to be established, and “selected raj” to continue alongside “the journey of destruction”. He added that the forces did not want the coalition government to succeed.

Bilawal remarked that the removal of the “selected prime minister” did not mean that the conspiracy was over, and the Constitution of Pakistan and judiciary were being played with as part of a big 10-year game plan.

“There are still people in the institutions who do not want the government coalition to succeed, they want the selected to be re-imposed. Just as the government had to be given to one man, a similar conspiracy is going on in the Supreme Court,” he said, adding that there was an effort to remove the judges who truly supported the Constitution and extend other judges’ tenures.

Bilawal alleged that people involved in the “conspiracy” were still present in the Supreme Court, and the government had foiled the conspiracy.

“Similarly, there was a conspiracy in the army that merit must be killed, and someone imposed on this institution for 10 years. As a result of this 10-year plan, a selected prime minister, a selected army chief and a selected chief justice were to be established under a selected martial law and this was the original doctrine,” he claimed.

Bilawal furthered that the plan would implement dictatorship in the country and show “selected democracy” to the world.

The PPP scion said that the coalition thought the conspiracy was over once the no-confidence motion against the former PTI government was passed. However, the “conspiracy is still going on today”. He said that the conspiracy must be “thwarted together”.

“Today along with the politicians, the judiciary also holds the responsibility to maintain the dignity of their institution. Today the judiciary is standing at a crossroads,” he maintained.

He said that if a one-man dictatorship and a one-man show continued in the Supreme Court, then no one will be able to handle the coming crisis.

“A chief justice and a few judges want to prove their minority as the majority,” he added, alleging that a joke was being made of the Constitution and judiciary of Pakistan.

Zardari urges dialogue

PPP co-chairperson and former president Asif Ali Zardari said he was willing to ask PM Shehbaz to facilitate dialogue with the opposition but said he would first “ask the opposition to go to the premier”.

Addressing the NCC, he said that he and his party have always shared a commitment to “save democracy in Pakistan”.

“We have been saving Pakistan in the past and we will save it once again,” Zardari said, “we will not leave a divided country for the next generation”.

“Admitted that it is a limited democracy,” he said, “and that too has been weakened over the years but it will only strengthen over the years through an evolutionary process” which he vowed to forever lend his support to.

Speaking of the mounting fears of bankruptcy, the ex-president cited the examples of Japan, South Korea, Argentina and India which have all suffered economic crises but remained committed to pursuing democracy.

“This (economic meltdown) is no big deal for Pakistan, the country will rise and we will help foster it,” he said.

He also took the opportunity to hint at the ongoing stand-off between the government and the judiciary saying, “I have seen suo motu cases against myself where the chief justice even said he would not name the officer who reported the case (against Zardari) to him”.

“What right do you have? Under what law can an officer meet you privately and brief you?” he lamented.

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Zardari also made mention of the miscarriage of justice not only against him but his wife, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and his sister and politician Faryal Talpur.

“Nonetheless, we will continue our fight and we will build Pakistan,” said the PPP chairman. However, he said, “we need time”.

“Hasty judgments do not strengthen democracy, they create chaos. And we, the PPP believe, we cannot afford chaos.

“Of course, we can request the premier to enter dialogue with anybody, but they must come to him,” he said pointing towards PM Shehbaz.

“We speak of dialogue because it does not suit a government to go for a clash. We cannot afford clashes when people cannot feed their children and their elderly,” said Zardari.

In the same breath, the PPP leader said Imran was ousted through a democratic process as he lost the vote of no-confidence “fair and square”. “It was he who went for resignations and he has brought everything upon himself,” he maintained, “and we will see him through”.

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