ISLAMABAD, June 17: Political parties in the ruling coalition have advised the PPP against adopting a confrontationist stand at a time when the Supreme Court was about to take a decision on various petitions challenging the National Assembly speaker’s ruling on the issue of prime minister’s disqualification, Dawn has learnt.
Representatives of Awami National Party, Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Pakistan Muslim League-Q and Fata told the PPP that they supported the government in upholding the supremacy of parliament but believed that exercising restraint was a better option than going for confrontation.
“We have advised the government to avoid confrontation with the judiciary on any matter because it could be detrimental not only to democratic institutions but also to the PPP,” said a source who was privy to the Saturday night meeting at the Presidency.
He said there was a consensus at the meeting that an impartial inquiry into the case involving property tycoon Malik Riaz and Dr Arsalan Iftikhar be carried out in accordance with the Supreme Court verdict, considering it as an issue between the two individuals.
Similarly, he said, the PPP had been asked to exercise restraint and not to take any step that could lead to a clash between institutions in case the SC issued an adverse decision on the petitions challenging the speaker’s ruling on the disqualification issue.
Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain proposed the setting up of a commission to investigate the bribery scam involving Malik Riaz and Dr Arsalan.
In a statement issued here on Sunday, the PML-Q chief suggested the commission should conduct open proceedings and there should be no restriction on anyone’s entry.
He regretted that some people had launched a one-sided propaganda to create an impression that there was a confrontation between institutions instead of individuals and, therefore, the early setting up of the commission was necessary.
He said that no-one could even think that the matter was against the Supreme Court or could harm the sanctity of the apex court.
An official handout issued by Presidential Spokesman Farhatullah Babar after the Saturday meeting had said the coalition partners had “reiterated resolve to uphold supremacy of the parliament as envisaged in the Constitution”.
The announcement, according to some political analysts, is an indication that the government is set to fight on the issue of the prime minister’s disqualification in the wake of his April 26 conviction by the apex court on charges of contempt for not writing a letter to Swiss authorities to re-open a money laundering case against President Asif Ali Zardari.
Besides Chaudhry Shujaat and Mushahid Hussain of the PML-Q, the meeting was attended by Haji Adeel and Zahid Khan of the ANP, Babar Ghouri and Haider Abbas Rizvi of MQM and Senator Abbas Khan Afridi and Munir Khan Orakzai of Fata.
The spokesman had said the meeting appreciated the resolution passed by the National Assembly endorsing the decision of the speaker against sending a reference to the election commission for disqualification of the prime minister.
In a related development, some Fata legislators led by Hameedullah Jan Afridi distanced themselves from all decisions taken in recent meetings of the coalition partners with particular reference to the hearing of different cases by the apex court.
“Our consultation continues and we will announce a unanimous decision after reaching a conclusion,” Mr Afridi told Dawn.
According to Mr Afridi, the group comprises Senators Haji Khan Afridi, Hilalur Rehman and Malik Rasheed Ahmed and MNAs Zafar Baig Bhitani, Bilal Rehman and Kamran Khan.
He said that because of the participation of a few Fata legislators in the coalition meetings it should not be assumed that Fata was behind the government’s decisions.
“We are not part of current coalition meetings,” he said, adding that senators and MNAs who had formed the Fata Joint Parliamentary Group held their own viewpoint and “we have certain reservations on national issues as well as matters relating to Fata”.
Mr Afridi complained that members of his group had not been taken into confidence on various policy decisions and their concerns had not been properly addressed by the government.
Haji Adeel said his party believed in the supremacy of parliament and that the speaker’s ruling should be considered final in the light of the 18th Amendment.
He said the ANP wanted to see all institutions functioning within the parameters given in the Constitution to avoid any confrontation.
Mr Babar said the PPP also was not in favour of any confrontation with the judiciary.
He said endorsing the decision of the speaker against sending the reference to the election commission for the prime minister’s disqualification did not mean that the government wanted to confront the judiciary.