PM Sharif calls for legislation for ‘upholding rule of law’

Wednesday, Mar 29, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif asked parliamentarians on Tuesday to decide if they wanted to continue with the prevailing “law of the jungle” or legislate for upholding the rule of law.

“Today, the fight is between democracy and fascism… It is high time we took a decision with collective wisdom,” he said in his address on the floor of the National Assembly.The Prime Minister ruled out talks with PTI Chairman Imran Khan unless he “apologises” to the nation for his “wrongdoings”. “If he (Imran Khan) genuinely wants to sit down for negotiations, he should first seek forgiveness from the nation for his wrongdoings,” he said. PM Sharif said the country was at the watershed of history and it was important for the parliament to legislate on “matters concerning the country”. He said the 1973 Constitution had defined the ambits of the state institutions and set redline about their functioning. “Today this Constitution is facing a joke and the country is suffering with a serious situation,” he said.

The Prime Minister said Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan was enjoying immunity from the rule of law despite his persistent “blackmailing and abuse of the judiciary”.

“We need a categorical decision if we want to give relief to the nation or the ‘favoured one’ who does not abide by the law,” he said. He said Khan, who was habitual of not appearing before courts and frequently mocked the judiciary, was still getting extensions in bail.

PM Sharif recalled that senior leadership of his party faced imprisonment in fake cases registered against them, however, no leniency was extended to them.“On the other hand, he [Imran Khan] has got a long ‘innings’. Every court in the country is granting him an extension. Is this the criteria of justice,” he raised a question before the House.

He said the three pillars of the state, including legislature, judiciary, and executive, had to play their due role, otherwise, the time would be left with regrets only. “We have to decide for the future of the nation and take guidance from law and Constitution,” he said.

The Prime Minister termed a ray of hope “the 4-3 decision of judges” in a suo moto case regarding elections that dismissed the proceedings contending that the chief justice of Pakistan does not have the power to restructure benches without the consent of the respective judges.

PM Sharif felicitated the nation on 50 years of the formulation of the 1973 Constitution and said the polity was a binding force among all federating units of the country. He lambasted the tenure of Imran Khan which, he said, pushed the country to the brink of economic default.

He mentioned Khan’s violation of the pledges with the International Monetary Fund led to a serious economic crisis with an increase of foreign debt and inflation. He said Khan misguided the public through his so-called “regime change” narrative, however, later took a U-turn on his own stance.

“A liar and non-serious person incurred a big loss to the country. The biggest fraud of the country’s history has deceived the public in the name of the State of Medina,” he said.PM Sharif said the government was trying to mend relations with friendly countries that suffered damage during the tenure of Imran Khan. He said the hypocrisy was at its height as Khan had now hired a US lobbying firm besides holding meetings with diplomats. “He has created a big divide among the nation and no one is questioning him,” he said. “Law will take its course and this non-serious person would not be allowed to incur further damage to the country.”

He regretted Khan was openly criticising the brave armed forces, which was making the enemies of the country happy. He mentioned that the immense sacrifices rendered by 80,000 Pakistanis including the army, police, law enforcement agencies, and citizens saved the country from terrorism.

During Khan’s tenure, he said, the terrorists returned to their safe havens and added that the matter needed an investigation. PM Sharif said talks with Khan were not possible until he apologised to the nation for his “ills”. “If he genuinely wants to sit down for negotiations, he should first seek forgiveness from the nation for his wrong-doings,” he said.

“As a Pakistani, parliamentarian and the head of the country, I request the House to take urgent notice of the situation that Imran Niazi has created in the country,” he said. “The parliament needs to take solid action, otherwise history will not spare us. Imran is trying to bury the 1973 Constitution.”

Regarding the audio leak of a conversation of a Supreme Court judge, the Prime Minister made a request to the superior court for a forensic of the audio. “Politicians are put in jails in no time, but how many judges have been ousted on corruption,” he said.

“The parliamentarians need to decide if they will act as a herd of cattle or have the audacity to decide about their future themselves,” he said. The Prime Minister said the country was facing a difficult situation even after 70 years of its establishment and only the rule of law could help to address the constitutional and political crisis.