Authority remains with Supreme Court: Khawaja Asif clears doubts about new law

Asif said that Nawaz Sharif and Jahangir Tareen were denied their legal rights, and government is not offering them relief

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Defence Minister Khawaja Asif. AFP/File
Defence Minister Khawaja Asif. AFP/File

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said that the government was raring for exhaustive negotiations. However in the same breath, he criticised Imran Khan, the Chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), by questioning his reliability and citing his past actions.

"Can you name a single viewpoint that Imran Khan has held for over 24 hours? Is it wise to put all of our political assets on his commitment?" the minister questioned Khan's steadfastness, speaking on Geo News programme 'Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada kay Saath' on Wednesday.

Khawaja Asif made this statement just hours after Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's (PTI) Secretary General Asad Umar, speaking to Geo News on Wednesday, reiterated Imran Khan's commitment to upholding political stability in the nation. Umar said that Khan is willing to provide an undertaking for talks with political parties and move forward. "Imran Khan intends to make an undertaking. However, an assurance from the government is also essential," Umar stated.

Khawaja Asif asserted that his political party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), cannot afford to jeopardise its political capital by relying on Imran Khan's assurance.

Asif further remarked that the controversy surrounding the Supreme Court of Pakistan's March 1 verdict must be settled first, whether it was a three-two or four-three majority verdict. In the current climate of uncertainty, no one can make a definitive commitment, he pointed out.

During its hearing on Wednesday, the five-member larger bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial, hotly debated whether the court's March 1 order was given with a 4-3 majority or 3-2, a judicial debate that became all the more important in the backdrop of a hard-hitting resolution brought by the government in the National Assembly against the higher judiciary for asserting “undue interference in political matters as a cause of political instability in the country”. The government's resolution restricted the chief justice's power of taking suo motu notice.

Khawaja Asif said that both Nawaz Sharif and Jahangir Tareen were denied their legal rights, and the government is not offering them any relief as the matter has been left in the hands of the apex court.

Replying to a question, Khawaja Asif said that the government is not accumulating authority in the Parliament as power still resides with the Supreme Court. He further said that the government would accept and fully adhere to the top court's verdicts on all appeals.

On Wednesday, the government passed "the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill, 2023" in the National Assembly, which has attracted a great deal of criticism. Responding to concerns about the new law, Khawaja Asif stated that the legislation does not consolidate power within the legislature.

"The Parliament makes laws within its limits. As per Parliament's authority, it can enact laws. Therefore, no one has the right to object," he remarked. Asif also mentioned that court rulings are accepted as laws in some lawsuits.

Furthermore, Asif observed that the current Chief Justice has referred to life-time disqualification as a draconian law.