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Pakistan

Asma calls for supremacy of parliament

QUETTA: The current political crisis can be resolved only by safeguarding the Constitution and making parliament supreme, Asma Jahangir, a former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, said on Tuesday.

“People will come and go, but the sanctity of democratic institutions should be inviolable,” she said at a Meet the Press programme at the Quetta Press Club.

Ms Jahangir said the majesty of the judiciary was tied to democracy, observing that military rule had always made courts subservient to martial law.

Commenting on the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif by the Supreme Court, Ms Jahangir said the verdict had raised some questions: (i) does the Constitution allow the disqualification of a person for life? (ii) under which clause personnel of sensitive organisations were inducted into the Joint Investigation Team and (iii) how could anyone be disqualified without a trial?

She said the existing signs of confrontation between institutions were ominous. “I fear that the country is being pushed towards chaos.”

The lawyer lamented the erosion of values in politics, saying people did not bother about the self-respect of others and personal attacks were common.

Ms Jahangir said it was the job neither of the Army nor of the judiciary to expose flaws in a political party.

She called for setting up a separate court for adjudicating on constitutional matters as “differences between the judiciary and parliament are harmful to the democratic process”.

Recalling the torture that lawyers, politicians and journalists had braved for the sake of democracy, she said in the past courts were put under pressure, but the 2007 lawyers’ movement had strengthened the judicial system. “The judiciary should now work with more responsibility,” MsJahangir said.

In reply to a question, she said: “Conspiracies against democracy have intensified and certain elements are out to destabilise the country”.

Latif Afridi, an ANP leader, said conspiracies against democracy had started in 1947 and added: “Our neighbours turned into enemies because of a weak foreign policy.”

About the menace of terrorism, Mr Afridi said it had affected the entire civil society in Quetta. “This demon has to be exorcised for ensuring a safe future for our children.”

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Azhar Hashmi

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