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LAHORE: Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that during the government of Imran Khan Pakistan is moving towards dictatorship instead of democracy.

Addressing the members of Lahore High Court Bar Association here on Thursday, he said the role of parliament has not met our expectations and perhaps we have become a member of the worst performing parliament in the history of Pakistan.

He said Pakistan needs a non-discriminatory, transparent and efficient accountability system and added that no civilized and democratic society is possible without the rule of law. He said the PPP has decided to challenge this regime.

He urged the legal community to once again stand with the party to save the constitution and democracy. “The party has decided to march towards Islamabad to save democracy, constitution, economy and the country. We are democrats and do not believe in ransacking.”

Bilawal said the judiciary’s role is to promote legal ideas, jurisprudence and constitutionalism instead of building a dam. Some judges took upon themselves on deciding which building should be demolished and which must remain intact.

He said the courts have the responsibility to uphold the values of fundamental rights, fair trial and due process. Unfortunately, very often the judiciary has failed to do so.

He said the responsibility to protect the rule of law falls on us - all politicians, lawyers and judges. Sadly, history shows that we have thus far failed to discharge our responsibility and more often than not the scale of justice tilts towards the oppressors of the people.

He said the lawyers’ struggle for independence of judiciary inspired him as the struggle was not for one judge but for the idea of democracy. “We have utmost respect for the judiciary; however, the expectations of lawyers’ movement were not met.”

He said the fate of judiciary and democracy is in the hands of lawyers and the party begs them to save the judiciary and legal system in Pakistan. “We have to make the right choice and to develop a democratic, federal and pluralistic society. The lawyers of Pakistan have made every single dictator shake. They fear for your black coat. There is no power which can stand in front of united legal fraternity,” he said.

Bilawal said a group of lawyers had formed a party in Lahore and even after 50 years it is fighting for the rule of law. Pakistan was formed by a lawyer Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and it was made a constitutional Islamic republic by a lawyer Quaid-e-Awam Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, he added.

The Lahore High Court is a part of the history of Pakistan where Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was denied a free trial and a conspiracy to institute his judicial murder was orchestrated, he added. Those who conspired against Bhutto have been consigned to the dustbins of history. Their names are remembered only as a smear on the face of our constitution and ‘institution’ but on the other hand Bhutto lives to this day in the hearts of the people.

“The verdict of history and the people of Pakistan is loud and clear. We are still awaiting the rectification of this historic wrong through the courts of Pakistan. How can the people of Pakistan hope for justice when founder of the constitution is himself looking for justice till date?”

A free and independent judiciary must free itself of the injustices of historic wrongs. “They (judiciary) endorsed dictatorship, endorsed the rule of General Musharraf and endorsed the rule of General Ziaul Haq but condemned Quaid-e-Awam to the gallows.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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