PDM president says judiciary must redeem its stature ‘through its character’ following series of allegations questioning role of former CJP Saqib Nisar
Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) President Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Tuesday described the electoral reforms passed by the incumbent government in a joint sitting of Parliament as “an attack on the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).”
Addressing a press conference after a meeting of the multi-party opposition alliance, he claimed that the legislation passed by the government sought to curb the constitutional authority of the ECP. “The nation is demanding a free and independent election commission,” he said, reiterating that reducing the institution powers was “unacceptable and a violation of the Constitution.”
Claiming that the electoral reforms held “no value,” he warned overseas Pakistanis—who were granted the right to vote from their place of residence—to not fall for the “government’s deception.” He said that the PDM would soon devise a policy that would grant overseas Pakistanis the right to vote in accordance with Pakistan’s laws and the Constitution. He also accused the government of seeking to rig the next general elections through electronic voting machines. “We reject this pre-poll rigging,” he added.
On the controversy over former chief Justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar’s alleged involvement in ensuring that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz remained imprisoned prior to the 2018 general elections, Fazl said that while he respected the judiciary, it was concerning that “testimonies are being given against judges from within it.”
Last week, former Gilgit-Baltistan chief justice Rana Shamim alleged in an affidavit that he had witnessed Nisar instructing a high court judge to ensure Sharif and his father were not released ahead of elections. On Sunday, a leaked audio clip emerged of a phone call allegedly between Nisar and an unidentified individual in which the former CJP says the father and daughter must be sidelined to allow for Imran Khan to come to power. Nisar maintains that both the affidavit and audio clip are false.
“This has raised questions on judiciary’s freedom and independence, and we believe that it will now have to regain its status and trust through its character,” Fazl said during his press conference. He said that any conspiracies hatched against an elected prime minister were “conspiracies against the country and its democratic system,” adding that the consequences of such conspiracies were borne by the people in the shape of inflation, unemployment and economic decline.
During his press interaction, the PDM chief—who also heads the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam—criticized the incumbent government for agreeing to the International Monetary Fund’s demands to make the State Bank of Pakistan autonomous. “Nobody will then be able to question the State Bank and its matters will be handed over to an international institution,” he claimed.
Fazl said the PDM leadership would meet again on Dec. 6, vowing it would be followed by a “final, definite and effective” strategy to “rid Pakistan of suppression.” He claimed that inflation could only be controlled if the incumbent government were ousted, adding that the PDM would devise a strategy to accomplish this.