Saturday, November 25, 2023

SC moved seeking removal of ‘biased’ President Alvi

Petitioner urges court to remove him over president's failure to maintain “impartially” in performing duties

President Arif Alvi. — APP/File
President Arif Alvi. — APP/File
  • President misusing his powers, acting biased for PTI, says petition.
  • Application cites Alvi's failure to announce the election date.
  • Apex court urged to stop him from continuing as head of state.

ISLAMABAD: With already a tumultuous and controversial tenure as president, a petition has been filed in the Supreme Court of Pakistan seeking Arif Alvi’s removal as the head of state over misconduct and failure to maintain “impartially” in performing his duties, Geo News reported Saturday.

From sending the infamous presidential reference to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) against CJP Qazi Faez Isa, to dissolving the National Assembly ahead of the no-confidence motion filed against then-PM Imran Khan in April 2022, and his failure to announce the election date, President Alvi has been part of some of the most controversial political decisions in the country's history.

Dr Alvi has been criticised by his own party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), following the May 9 incidents, while several politicos and the SC have also censured the top official over his failure to announce the date of elections.

His five-year term ended on September 8, 2023, however, he is currently continuing as the country's head of state under Article 44 of the Constitution which allows the president to continue holding the office in the absence of the provincial and national assemblies — which were dissolved in January and August earlier this year, respectively.

Alvi in violation of Constitution, misusing his powers

The application, filed by Ghulam Murtaza Khan, highlights the “controversial role” of President Alvi and contends that the officeholder is constitutionally obliged to work in accordance with the law.

“President of Pakistan Mr Arif Alvi who is not acting in accordance with the responsibilities of the seat but is biased […] He is misusing the powers and violating the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan continuously by his words & conducts,” the petition reads arguing that the president is “not entitled” to hold the prestigious office.

The petition — citing Alvi’s decision to dissolve the National Assembly on then-prime minister Imran Khan’s suggestion in April 2022 — further alleges that President Alvi is representing PTI and that he is being biased by “giving favour to one particular political party”.

In April 2022, Alvi dissolved the lower house of the parliament after the opposition parties had tabled a no-confidence motion against the Khan-led PTI government which cited "international conspiracy" and relied upon Article 5(1) of the Constitution which obligates citizens to have loyalty to the state.

The no-confidence motion was then declared "unconstitutional" by then-NA speaker Asad Qaiser.

“The President of Pakistan has misused his powers by using his Office (Office of the State) to support the PTI,” the application argues, alleging that the office of the president is being used for party meetings.

Several mainstream political parties — including Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and others — have repeatedly alleged Dr Alvi to be "biased" for the Imran-led party and still acting as a "party member" instead of a head of the state who is supposed to be "impartial and unbiased".

Last month, speaking in Geo News' "Capital Talk", Alvi reiterated his loyalty and affiliation to PTI Chairman Imran, saying "He is still my leader".

“[The] president did not also give election date as Constitutional role which is observed in the country,” the petition added referring to Alvi’s failure to announce the election date under Article 48(5) of the Constitution.

It is to be noted that a three-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa and comprising Justice Minallah and Justice Amin-Ud-Din Khan had ordered the government to ensure the conduct of general elections on February 8, after President Arif and Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja unanimously agreed on the aforementioned date during a meeting held at the President's House.

However, in his 41-page note, Justice Minallah remarked that President Alvi "failed in his duty to promptly appoint a date for the general elections as required under Article 48(5)."

The petition also refers to the controversy that arose after Alvi “reportedly” returned the Official Secrets Amendment Bill and Pakistan Army Amendment Bill 2023 without signing them.

On August 20, the president took to social media platform X, formerly Twitter, to announce that he had asked staff to return the bills unsigned within the stipulated time to make them ineffective.

The application urges the court to probe the matter and to stop President Alvi from holding the office of the head of state.