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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court said it cannot compel for dialogue and declined the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders’ pleas to give a deadline for negotiation to hold elections of the National Assembly and all the four provincial assemblies simultaneously.

A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Munib Akhtar, on Thursday, heard the petition of Sardar Kashif Khan for holding of election across the country the same day.

The chief justice at the conclusion of the proceeding said: “We are not giving any deadline, but will pass an order.” He said there is no order, direction of the court, but it is a suggestion in the interest of the public and to protect people’s voting right.

Totally unfazed, govt gives no quarter to SC

“We are not pushing you (the government), but we are trying to find a way out to comply with the constitutional mandate and conducive resolution to end the political impasse.” The CJP proposed the PTI and other political parties’ leaders sit down and decide about the date amicably, adding if this does not happen then there is a court order.

Justice Bandial agreed with the attorney general’s suggestion that the dialogue is the best way to take the country out of the prevailing political and economic situation. He said the purpose of the Court was to bring all the political parties to a level where they could decide a date for holding of elections across the country.

The attorney general said circumstances in 1977 were as such that are now prevailing in the country. He said even in 1977 in the end all parties sat down to find out the solution.

Barrister Ali Zafar, who is also part of the PTI team to hold discussions with major political parties for holding elections simultaneously across the country, said the dialogue should be held in a conducive environment with an open mind. He hoped they would get results. He, however, stated that the dialogue should not be endless, adding there should be a timeframe.

Imran Khan has constituted a three-member committee of PTI – comprising PTI Vice-Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Ex-PTI Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, and PTI Senator Barrister Ali Zafar - to discuss the election matter with the leaders of other political parties.

Vice-Chairman PTI Shah Mahmood Qureshi said due to the Court the PTI has shown flexibility. However, he added that the government is not serious about holding discussions on a date. He stated that the Supreme Court order still holds. The former foreign minister said the dialogue is delaying tactics, adding the parties in the government have decided to defy the Court’s order and the constitution, and wanted to undermine democracy.

The PTI vice-chairman said Ayaz Sadiq and Saad Rafique had talked to Asad Qaiser, who had told them that he was not a member of the PTI committee, therefore, talk to Shah Mahmood. He informed that so far the PML-N and PPPP leaders have not contacted him. He said there should be a timeframe to finalise the date of elections.

He said they have prepared a proposal, which they have not shared with the media. He asked the bench to keep this in the court record. However, the chief justice returned it, saying there was no need for it.

The chief justice said the Court had noted his concern in their April 20 order. He said the Court also wants that dialogue be held with patience as all the parties have supported the idea that the elections of the National Assembly and all the provincial assemblies be held in one day.

Farooq H Naek stressed the need that first all the parties should sit down then they would find out the solution. He said they want the dialogue to be held with respect and dignity. At the onset of the hearing, Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Usman Mansoor Awan informed that the government has started the dialogue process with coalition partners and in this regard, a meeting was held yesterday (April 26).

The attorney general apprised that the chairman Senate (Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani) has been requested to constitute a committee comprising five members from the opposition and five from the government. He told that the chairman Senate has written letters to the Leader of the House and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate asking them to give five names in order to move forward with the dialogue process.

The chief justice questioned in what capacity Chairman Senate is requested for holding dialogue. He said the Chairman Senate is a constitutional office, adding there should be someone who communicates with the committee members and acts as interlocutor, while the chairman heads the committee.

Naek said he (Chairman Senate) is the custodian of the Upper House of the Parliament that has the representation of all parties and from all provinces. The AGP said that the government would convey to the Chairman five names. He requested the chief justice to ask the PTI to also give names to the chairman. Usman Mansoor said the government side is ready to hold meetings with the political parties even today. The case was adjourned sine die.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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Parvez Apr 28, 2023 11:16am
History has shown that most decisions of our SC have been highly controversial....so expecting anything different this time is wishful thinking.
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