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The political divide among forces supporting and opposing the ‘military-judiciary alliance’ in Pakistan deepened when five of the major political parties demanded “undiluted democracy” and the supremacy of parliament.
On this, a seminar called “Sanctity of Ballot” was held in Islamabad and, was attended by the heads of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML (N), Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), Jamiat Ulema-i- Islam (JUI-F), National Party (NP) and the Awami National Party (ANP).
The mainstream media blacked out speeches by the political leaders after the Lahore High Court issued a restraining order on the the electronic media to air any “anti-judiciary, anti-military and anti-Islam material.”
The Supreme Court clarified that Article 19 of the 1973 constitution read that freedom of speech is “subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of glory of Islam or the integrity, security or ‘defense’ of Pakistan or any part thereof”, while Article 68 imposed restrictions on parliamentary debates with, “No discussion shall take place in Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) which brings in dispute the conduct of any Judge of the Supreme Court or of a High Court in the discharge of his duties.”
Political observers see ‘judicial activism’ and ‘covert military interference’ becoming an issue as the Sharif family tries to claw its way back into the political game.
However, the ANP has not offered unstinted support to the former prime minister’s PML-N.
“Nawaz’s legal entanglement has nothing to do with the democracy and rule of law”, an ANP spokesman reportedly said.
As fellow Pushtuns, however, ANP speakers at the moot spoke up for the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) and urged authorities to listen to their constitutional grievances.
But the PTM is viewed by the Pakistan army as an Indian-sponsored organization whose main aim is stand in the way of the military’s anti-terror drive in the tribal belt.
Making his bid for salvation, Nawaz Sharif equated today’s situation to the 1970 East Pakistan debacle. He lamented four military generals had ruled the country for 32 of its 71 years of existence to bring the country to this sorry impasse.
No one was found listening.