PPP’s pressure tactics work this time | Pakistan Today

PPP’s pressure tactics work this time

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Sindh leaders continued their rhetoric against the judges to put pressure on the judiciary ahead of a contempt of court case against them being taken up by the Supreme Court, but changed their tone after the court allowed them 15 days on Friday to file a response. Taj Haider and Sharjeel Memon expressed respect for the apex court while Sindh Home Minister Zulfiqar Mirza, who is a close aide of President Asif Ali Zardari, used the “Sindh card”, saying the province should not be treated like former East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).
The strategy worked, at least for the time being, as the PPP ministers and MPAs went to the courtroom stressed and concerned but came out quite relieved and praising the judges.
“We are not afraid of any punishment … what is a six-month sentence for us when even death sentences could not scare us … All the Sindh Assembly members will go to jail if they (judges) send us to jail,” Zulfiqar Mirza said on arrival at the Supreme Court building. Inside the courtroom, however, Memon and Haider were seen being humble, modest and respectful to the court. Flanked by their lawyer Abdul Hafeez Pirzada, both PPP leaders stood silently while Mirza remained seated at one of the back seats and watched the proceedings from a distance. Tight security measures were in place at the Supreme Court premises because of the sensitivity of the matter and the presence of some high-profile ministers of the ruling party, while senior party leaders and Presidential Spokesman Farhatullah Babar were also seen in courtroom No 1.
Prior to the proceedings, Mirza said that he wanted to tell the Pakistani nation that the court had done injustice to the Sindhis. “It was Sindh that created Pakistan as its assembly passed the resolution in support of Pakistan … Stop the Bengal-like treatment of Sindh … why does the Supreme Court not take suo motu notice of targeted killings and the May 12 incidents?” he said. He said his father was also a judge and he never went to public or social gatherings. “But some chief justices have been appointed who have been affiliated with private companies. I saw a photograph of a judge who awarded capital punishment to the first democratically elected Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto who was innocent and had committed no crime, but was hanged … Nasim Hassan Shah’s portrait is still hanging on the wall in courtroom No 1,” he added.
However, soon after the court gave the PPP leaders some relief, Mirza was all praises for the court. “The chief justice was talking in the PPP language today and he appeared to me a ‘jayala judge’. [He] acknowledged that democracy was restored because of the struggle by the PPP. We have great respect for the judiciary and offered sacrifices for it. We will also reciprocate this gesture of the judiciary,” he added. He said his party was “satisfied” with the court hearing as the attitude of the top judge was “fatherly”. “Frankly speaking, we had no hopes for relief prior to our arrival in the apex court. Today, we are carrying the feelings that this is our court as well. We hope that the court will respect the public representation by elected members,” he added. He defended, however, the strike call against the apex court’s verdict on the National Accountability Bureau chairman appointment case, saying that he himself had called for the strike and it was reflective of the sentiments of the people of Sindh.
He said the strike was called to register the PPP’s concerns and it was the party’s right to call a strike, as it was the court’s right to issue contempt notices. “I think both have exercised their rights,” he said. He said the Supreme Court still remembered the people who had attacked it and the judges at that time had to run from their chambers to save their lives. He thanked the chief justice for his “gracious remarks” and said the PPP expected justice from his court. “The court’s behaviour was very congenial,” he added. Asked whether the Sindh Assembly members had accompanied Memon and Taj to apply pressure on the apex court, Mirza said, “We are not here to exert pressure on the Supreme Court but just to show solidarity with our colleagues. All MPAs will stand by them.”
Mirza also lashed out at Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz chief Nawaz Sharif, saying that his exile only came to an end because of the return of former premier Benazir Bhutto and it was none other than President Zardari who had convinced Sharif’s party to not boycott the elections. “They are in the government due to us. Had we not taken them along, they would have been restricted to single-column news in the newspapers,” he added. Memon said the court had given them relief and his party was indebted for it. He said his party had called for a peaceful strike. He said target killings were routine for the people of Karachi and the unfortunate loss of seven lives was not because of the strike call by the PPP.
Asked whether he would submit an apology to the apex court for using contemptuous language against the court, Memon said an apology was tendered when someone actually committed contempt. Haider avoided comments on court proceedings, saying the court was open and all had heard the proceedings. “I told the court that I cannot even think of passing contemptuous remarks against [it]. Moreover, I also told the court that it was unjust to link the violence [in Karachi] with the PPP as one of our party’s senior workers, Tariq Rashid, was also killed in the violence,” he added.

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