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ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president and leader of the opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday emphasized the need for fair distribution of resources among the federating units, saying "unless the smaller provinces are brought at par with Punjab in terms of resources, the Quaid's Pakistan cannot be established".

Speaking at an All-Parties Conference, organised by the Pakistan Bar Association, Shehbaz also underscored the need for formulating a merit-based procedure for appointment of judges and an across-the-board accountability process.

"Punjab could be like an "elder brother", but unless Punjab becomes an "equal brother" with the rest of the provinces, the dream of Quaid's and Iqbal's Pakistan cannot be turned into a reality," he said, adding that the grievances of the smaller provinces needed to be addressed, if we wanted to put Pakistan on the path of prosperity. "We have to think over it very seriously," he asserted, adding that all the provinces had rendered sacrifices for creation of Pakistan and there was a need for putting the country on the true spirit of federation by giving equal rights to all the federating units and also to Azad Jammu and Kashmir, and Gilgit-Baltistan.

He said that the grievances of Balochistan could be addressed by fair distribution of the resources, and investing on the people of the smaller provinces.

Talking about the appointment of judges in the higher judiciary, the PML-N president referred to various judges in the past who in one way or the other helped the military dictators to justify their dictatorial regimes.

"Even there are examples that some judges had to give those [relief] to the dictators, which they haven't even sought to...You're also aware of Arshad Malik's case...we have to stand up against such black sheep," he asserted.

He urged the legal fraternity to prepare recommendations about the procedure of appointment of judges based on merit.

"You have to come up with proposals how to pick up a judge who could ensure justice," he further added.

Paying respect to Justice Qazi Faez Isa, he stated that there are judges who are taking decisions based on justice despite pressure. However, he said that they could not be politicised.

He further stated that Justice Kayani once said that the 'doctrine of necessity' was his fault.

"Even if you want to wash these 'ugly stains' on the face of justice, you cannot wash them out," he maintained.

Referring to the accountability process of the PTI government, he maintained that 'it is not the accountability, but revenge'.

"Such polices of revenge have very adverse consequences for the country, which we saw in the past. God forbid, the ongoing policy of revenge can also end up with a huge damage to Pakistan," he added.

"Had there been a fair accountability process in the country, more than half the cabinet members of the prime minister, would have been behind the bars," Shehbaz further maintained, urging the lawyers to also come up with recommendations for a fair and transparent accountability process.

He said that accountability should not be based on "pick and choose", adding that everyone should face it without discrimination.

The PML-N president also criticised Prime Minister Imran Khan for his address to the joint session.

"You've heard the tone...The prime minister stood in Parliament and spoke in a way that no one could have imagined," he maintained.

He said that it was a fact the politicians also made blunders in the past, 'but we have to learn from the past and respect the Constitution'.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020