A Commendable Oath by PML- N Candidates
PML-N candidates vow to restore judiciary
By Amjad Mahmood; Dawn, February 7, 2008
LAHORE, Feb 6: Around 600 PML-N candidates for the national and provincial assemblies on Wednesday vowed to restore the pre-emergency judiciary after winning the elections.
The pledge was made at a mass oath-taking ceremony held here. A large number of civil society members, lawyers, retired judges and army generals, including former army chief Aslam Beg, retired justices Mr and Mrs Javed Iqbal, Wajihuddin Ahmad, Bushra Aitzaz Ahsan, Khalilur Rehman, Karamat Nazeer Bhandari, Abid Hasan Minto, Akram Sheikh and Professor Mehdi Hasan, had been invited to the ceremony.
Former chief justice Saeeduz Zaman Siddiqui, who had refused to take the oath under the PCO in 2000, administered the oath which requires the candidates to play their role in reinstating the deposed judges, ending political role of the army and restoring the Constitution as it was on Oct 12, 1999.
The PML-N MPs will ensure that courts work independently and no individual, authority, law or the PCO can bar them from discharging their duty. They also pledged to abide by the party constitution and discipline.
“It1’s an unusual event in an unusual situation,” said Justice Siddiqui. He urged other political parties to follow suit. He said that for the first time a political party had taken a categorical stance on the issue.
PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif said his party wanted to boycott the polls on the judiciary issue but after failing to convince the PPP and ANP, it had decided to make the election a referendum against the Nov 3 action taken by President Musharraf.
“Feb 18 is a referendum on whether the nation wants the reinstatement of Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and other judges or not,” he said, adding that it was the most important point and root-cause of the problems faced by the country. “If we succeed in restoring our judges, it will be the last nail in the coffin of dictatorship.”
Mr Sharif appealed to other parties to adopt a clear and categorical stand on the issues of independence of judiciary, ending political role of the armed forces and not validating the ‘unconstitutional’ action of President Musharraf.
He maintained that if people tolerated the Nov 3 action, the judiciary would never be able to deliver and the country would not get any respect in the comity of nations.
Wajihuddin Ahmed said that only a simple majority in parliament could overturn the Nov 3 action. Referring to US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher’s statement that the president could dissolve parliament if it restored the deposed judges, he said if Gen Musharraf did so he would be taking an unconstitutional step.
Bushra Aitzaz, wife of SCBA president Aitzaz Ahsan, said the PPP and PML-N should not expect President Musharraf to hold free and fair polls. She said that both the parties should prepare a post-poll strategy when a “massive rigging” would leave them in a position too weak to dictate their terms in parliament.
PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif said his party was taking part in the polls despite rigging fears because it believed that boycotting the electoral process at a time when the country was passing through a critical stage would be a mistake.
He said that President Musharraf was levelling allegations of corruption against Justice Iftikhar while the Transparency International was saying that the eight-year rule of Gen Musharraf was the most corrupt period in the 60 year-history of Pakistan.