SC adjourns the hearing of Punjab election delay case till April 27 after AGP Mansoor Usman Awan & Farooq Naek meet CJP Umar Ata Bandial in his chamber
Mansoor Usman Awan informs media that they had sought some time from CJP & hearing of case has been adjourned till 27th April
“We will hold talks with PTI so agitation ends,” Naek told the Supreme Court.
ISLAMABAD ( Web News )
The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Thursday adjourned the hearing of Punjab election delay case till April 27 after Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan and Pakistan Peopl’es Party lawyer Senator Farooq Hamid Naek met Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Umar Ata Bandial in his chamber.
During the meeting, they sought time for holding dialogue with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to evolve consensus on simultaneous elections across the country. Mansoor Usman Awan and Farooq Hamid Naek informed CJP Umar Ata Bandial that the politicial leader need some more time for holding consultations, PDM Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has sought time for holding consultations with his party. They sougth time till after Eid-ul-Fitr. Subsequently, the hearing of the case was adjourned till April 27.
AGP Mansoor Usman Awan informed the media that they had sought some time from CJP and the hearing of the case has been adjourned till 27th April. Replying a question, Mansoor Usman said that there are some stages in holding of elections on 14th May in Punjab.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Munib Akhtar heard the case.
Earlier on Thursday, the Supreme Court directed the embattled ruling and the opposition political parties to immediately thrash out a consensus on the date of elections and update the bench hearing by 4:00 PM.
The directives came after the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) assured the Supreme Court that they would sit with the PTI and try to find a solution on the election date.
PPP’s Farooq H. Naek and PML-N’s Khawaja Muhammad Saad Rafique assured the three-member bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial of holding talks with the opposition party. “We will hold talks with PTI so agitation ends,” Naek told the Supreme Court.
While Khawaja Saad Rafique told the court: “[We] are ready to find a solution on the election date by sitting with the opposition.”
The same assurance was made by PTI’s Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Hussain Qureshi.
At the outset of the hearing, the CJP appreciated Jamaat-e-Islami Chief Sirajul Haq for making efforts to initiate a dialogue between the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the government. “You have undertaken a good initiative. May Allah help you succeed,” CJP Bandial told the JI chief.
The top judge then turned to PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi and asked if his party was okay with the Supreme Court’s advice on holding talks.
“PTI believes that the country should move ahead with constitutional supremacy. PTI always believes in the Constitution, whatever the Supreme Court orders we will accept it,” Qureshi told the CJP.
The CJP then inquired about Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan’s whereabouts.
AGP Awan apologised to the court for being late and informed the bench that the government officials would be late as they thought the hearing would resume at 11:30am.
The CJP then adjourned the hearing for 15 minutes.
Upon the resumption of the hearing, the lawyer representing one of the petitioners maintained that all the issues would be resolved if the polls were held on the same date. “We hope that all the parties will agree to a single point,” Shah Khawar said.
At this, CJP Bandial remarked that “court verdicts create complications”. “It’s a blessing if the political parties settle the matter through mutual understanding,” he added.
He said that the court would hear the government first and directed the representatives to inform the bench about the one-point agenda on the elections.
The top judge also appreciated the top leadership of the country for attending the hearing on the court’s call. “The nation is anxious, there would be peace if the leadership resolves the issue,” CJP Bandial remarked.
The top judge commended the Ministry of Defence for a good briefing on the matter and thanked PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari for agreeing to the court’s suggestion of talks. “It is a good that the PML-N has also agreed to our suggestion,” CJP Bandial said.
At this, Naek maintained that the ruling coalition always had the same stance that elections should be held simultaneously as the 90 days period has expired in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He said that the coalition government is holding consultations over polls on the same day and will engage PTI and allies on the matter right after Eid-ul-Fitr.
After this, Khawaja Saad Rafique proceeded to the rostrum. He said that his party was ready for dialogue with the opposition to find a solution and elections on the same day. “We politicians are friends with each other. Social media has a big role in showing differences,” Rafique said.
Meanwhile, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq said that BNP-Mengal leaders were currently in Chaghi but were standing by the government. “A solution will come out if we sit down together,” he said.
Moreover, PPP’s Qamar Zaman Kaira said that he agreed with Rafique’s statement. He said that his party was the first to initiate consultations with the allies.
PML-Q’s Tariq Bashir Cheema said that they had been calling for elections on the same day from day one. “We will support elections on the same day in all circumstances,” Cheema said.
Meanwhile, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s (MQM-P) Sabir Qaimkhani said that they stood by the apex court and will accept the decision made mutually. “We support simultaneous polls and dialogue,” Qaimkhani said.
Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) leader Muhammad Israr Tareen told the court that holding polls on the same date is important as small provinces like Balochistan would be affected.
CJP Bandial then summoned PTI’s Qureshi on the rostrum. Qureshi told the bench that his party was ready for polls and would support the dialogue to take political matters forward.
On the Punjab polls, Qureshi commented: “PDM said if Punjab Assembly is dissolved then we (the government) will dissolve the National Assembly. We (PTI-led coalition) dissolved the provincial assembly on PDM’s advice.” He added that the legal way forward was “clear” but they will also look at the “political way” forward.
“PML-N went back on its stance,” said Qureshi. He added that the PTI is ready for “comprehensive talks” if they are held within the ambit of the constitution.
The PTI vice chairman also told the court that his party feared that the government might prolong the talks.
On the issue of funds related to the polls, Qureshi said that the government’s decision to run the country via Parliament would lead to “anarchy”. “If reasonable suggestions are put forward then a way forward will come,” said Qureshi.
On this point, PML-N’s Rafique came to the rostrum again and said that they didn’t agree to any statement given by Qureshi. He also added that the court should not be turned into a “debate club”.
While PPP’s Qamar Zaman Kaira said that no harsh remarks should echo in the honourable court. “We will make political debates on the forum of the parliament,” he said. Kaira also denied the government would try to prolong the issue of elections. “We assure the court of not wasting the time beyond the constitutional period,” Kaira added.
Moving on, CJP Bandial called Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed to the rostrum.
The politician said that the court’s decision would be the entire nation’s decision. He, however, expressed fear that the matter will be delayed till Eid-ul-Azha.
JI chief Siraj-u-Haq suggested that polls be held across the country after Eid-ul-Adha. Sharing his arguments with the court, Haq maintained that the elections were an issue for the entire nation instead of a couple of political parties. He said that his party was with neither PTI nor PDM. He then proposed holding polls on a “suitable date” after Eid-ul-Azha. “The judiciary should leave this matter to the political parties and honour its word,” Haq said.
“Elections have already delayed past 90 days. If elections can wait for 105 days after the dissolution of two provincial assemblies then they can also be held after 205 days,” said Haq. He added that the judiciary, army and Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) should stay away from politics and urged everyone to take a step back from their stance.
Meanwhile, PPP’s Naek requested the court to allow the ECP to extend the date for the polls so parties could issue tickets. “After the court order Election Commission cannot extend the date for the polls,” said Naek. CJP Bandial remarked that ECP could make changes to the schedule without changing the date of the polls. However, the top judge said that Supreme Court would ensure its May 14 decision was in place.
“Supreme Court’s decision of holding polls on May 14 will not be taken back,” said CJP Bandial. He added that no political party leader termed the decision on polls incorrect. “Negotiations can be successful if it’s a two-way street. It is requested that the party leaders sit today, rather than after Eid,” said CJP Bandial. The top judge also suggested that elections can be held in July after Eid-Ul-Azha as suggested by JI chief.
At this, PPP’s counsel stated that the ruling alliance will talk to Maulana Fazl ur Rehman during the Eid holidays.
However, CJP Bandial remarked that PPP’s Bilawal Bhutto made good efforts and hoped that JUI-F chief would show leniency.
“Court will not take back its May 14 decision [and] court decision cannot be ignored. Reversal of court decision is not a joke. There is a procedure to overturn court decisions,” said CJP Bandial.
The CJP then directed all political parties to initiate dialogue right away and inform the court by 4:00 PM on Thursday.