PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said Tuesday President Dr Arif Alvi has failed to fulfil his responsibilities as president and will now face two legal challenges.

This begins with the night he had violated the Constitution and dissolved the National Assembly despite the no-confidence motion. Furthermore, he has once again violated the Constitution by failing to convene a session of the National Assembly.

“I believe cases against President Arif Alvi revolve around the abrogation of the Constitution (aa’een ko toourra) when dissolving the National Assembly despite the no-confidence motion, besides other instances where he had failed to fulfil his constitutional duty to convene a session of the National Assembly,” he said while addressing the media outside the Supreme Court after attending the hearing of the Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Presidential Reference.

In response to a question, Bilawal emphasised the party’s consistent stance over three generations on all of the country’s institutions to operate within their constitutional boundaries. He stressed that this is crucial for strengthening Pakistan’s democracy, economy, and federation. “If we want the judiciary, establishment, and other institutions to function within their domains, politicians must understand the importance of operating within their political boundaries,” he said, highlighting that failure to do so could lead to incidents such as those on May 9, among others.

He warned that without mutual respect among politicians and a cessation of internal conflicts, it’s unreasonable to expect respect from other institutions. “Many of the country’s issues would be resolved automatically if politicians decided to set aside their egos and internal grudges,” he said. Responding to another question, the PPP chairman clarified that the party’s decision-making was not solely self-serving. “We could have chosen to remain indifferent to the entire situation, as the responsibility to form the government did not fall solely on the PPP due to the numbers,” he explained.

He further elaborated that the PPP was compelled to engage with the party that approached them, as the Sunni Ittehad Council did not engage with them for votes. Hence, objections from other parties regarding government formation were baseless, as they did not take steps themselves. “We were left with the option to engage with the party that approached us,” he remarked. Bilawal expressed gratitude to the Sunni Ittehad Council and PTI for allowing Maryam Nawaz and Murad Ali Shah to be elected unopposed as chief ministers of their respective provinces. He said that Shehbaz Sharif is on track to being elected prime minister, crediting the cooperation of the two parties.

Regarding the PTI, Bilawal criticised the party for its refusal to acknowledge its mistakes and its lack of faith in the country’s Constitution, democracy, and system. Bilawal pointed out that Asif Ali Zardari had mentioned in his press conference that the PTI would be part of the reconciliation process, but to date, the PTI has not admitted its faults.

Regarding rumours about the selection of governors, the PPP chairman clarified that Asif Zardari will be elected president, after which he will select governors. However, he said that the process has not yet begun.

He mentioned that the court is being briefed by the amici on the criminal aspects after assessing the legal and constitutional aspects of the case. He stressed that every single lawyer presenting before the court has provided evidence indicating a miscarriage of justice in the case of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. He expressed hope for justice to prevail, mentioning that the parties to the case, including Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari, Aseefa Bhutto Zardari, Fatima Bhutto, and Zulfikar Jr., have yet to address the court. He emphasised the need for a strong decision, in this case, to forever bury the tradition of victimisation.

Meanwhile, as the crisis created by President Arif Alvi, who refused to summon the inaugural session of the 16th National Assembly, is still not over, the caretaker government has made it clear to him that it was a constitutional requirement to convene the session within 21 days of conduct of general elections whether the House was complete or not.

In response to the summary returned by the president, the caretaker government has informed the president that nowhere in the Constitution was it mentioned that the inaugural session could not be summoned if the house was incomplete. The president has further been told that Article 91 of the Constitution also did not empower him to delay the inaugural session. The government has also asked the president to review his decision to delay the session till notification of the remaining members of the house on women-reserved seats.

In a related development, PMLN leader Senator Ishaq Dar maintained that there was no reason or basis for creating such confusion maintaining that the inaugural session of the House would have to be convened on February 29.

Talking to newsmen outside the Parliament House, he said now it was the responsibility of the government, prime minister, and ministries of law and parliamentary affairs to ensure that the incumbent speaker summoned the session on February 29 i.e. 21st day from the conduct of general elections.

“It will be the constitutional gesture and constitutional duty of the president to summon the National Assembly’s inaugural session on 21st day of elections,” Dar said.

He said according to his information, the government had responded to the president’s objections.

“The president, feeling his constitutional duty, should now summon the session after the government has given him response on the advice of the Ministry of Law,” he said.

He said it was a wrong notion that the inaugural session of the National Assembly could not be summoned till all the members on reserved seats were notified adding that the president had committed abrogation the Constitution (aa’een shiknee).

The PML-N leader said as per practice in the past, the National Assembly would elect the leader of the house (Prime Minister) on the fifth day of the start of the inaugural session of the House.

“As such, the leader of the house will be elected on March 04 (Monday),” Ishaq Dar said.

Pointing out that the Balochistan Assembly would meet on Wednesday (today), he said the PMLN and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) would jointly form government in the province.

“We will follow the same formula on which we agreed in the centre,” he said, adding the chief minister and deputy speaker will be taken from the PPP, while the PMLN will nominate its member for the speakers,” he said.

Dar said PMLN Quaid Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and President Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif will jointly chair the parliamentary party meeting on Wednesday afternoon (today).

Later, Shehbaz will host MNAs from the allied parties at Punjab House, Islamabad.

The incumbent speaker will administer the oath to the newly elected MNAs on the first day of the inaugural session on February 29 followed by the elections of the speaker and deputy speaker on Saturday (March 02) and elections of the prime minister on March 04 (Monday).

The new prime minister will require a minimum of 169 votes in the National Assembly having a total membership of 336.

The speaker and deputy speaker will be elected through secret balloting while the leader of the house will be elected through the division vote.

Highly placed sources told The News that if the president refuses to administer the oath to the prime minister, the National Assembly speaker will do the obligation since the incumbent Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani has planned to step down to move to the Balochistan Assembly where he has already become a member of the house.

He is supposed to take oath on Wednesday (today). Sources said the president was sticking to his position about the non-completion of the house and he wouldn’t summon the National Assembly today or tomorrow.

In this situation, the National Assembly Secretariat will issue the schedule for the inaugural session of the house and it will start at 11 am on tomorrow (Thursday).

Tahir Hussain, Secretary General of the National Assembly, who has organized the convening of the house, has constituted committees to finalise arrangements for the session.

The inaugural session of the national legislature spreads over five days as per tradition where the members take the oath of membership, elect a speaker, deputy speaker and leader of the house who becomes prime minister.

Filing of nomination papers, their security, withdrawal and contest are included in it but this time the secretariat has squeezed it to four days, the sources said.

The NA Secretariat is making all the arrangements under the spirit of the 18th Amendment of the Constitution.


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2024-02-28

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