Explicit or implicit supporters of military dictatorship in Pakistan, who usually lack significant vote bank in masses and dance to the tunes of right wing establishment, often criticise politicians holding them as solely and predominantly responsible for Pakistan’s failures and miseries as a nation and as a society.
Recently, Qazi Muhammad Anwar, President of the Supreme Court Bar Association, termed parliamentarians as smugglers and thieves. He uttered these words before his historical meeting with Mian Nawaz Sharif after which Mr Sharif declared his U-turn on the Constitutional Package. This is what Qazi Anwar said:
Smugglers in Parliament cannot appoint judges
Updated at: 1313 PST, Saturday, March 27, 2010
QUETTA: President of Supreme Court Bar Association Qazi Muhammed Anwar said the Parliament cannot usurp the freedom of the judiciary, Geo News reported Saturday.
Addressing lawyers at District Katchehry here, he said the judiciary is free to function under the Constitution and nobody including Parliament would be allowed to restrict its independence.
Qazi continued the smugglers sitting at the Parliament could not be allowed the power to appoint judges, adding lawyers will correct themselves if all the institutions are back on the right path. It is unthinkable under the Constitution to have a criminal as President of the state, as President needs to be free from all crimes including corruption under Article-248 of the Constitution, he maintained.Source: Geo News
There was apparently severe reaction and criticism on Qazi Anwar’s statement in the National Assembly as well as in various Provincial Assemblies. For example, the following reaction in the Senate of Pakistan:
Privilege motion referred to Senate body
Islamabad —The Upper House of the Parliament on Monday referred a privilege motion against President Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) Qazi Anwar over his derogatory remarks about the parliamentarians to the concerned standing committee.
Taking strong note of the reported statement of Qazi Anwar in which he declared parliamentarians as smugglers and thieves, Senator Jamal Khan Leghari while speaking on a point of order said that Qazi Anwar had humiliated and insulted parliament and committed breach of privilege of the House.
He demanded of the Chairman to issue ruling against Qazi Anwar as he had brought bad name to parliament, judiciary and Supreme Court.
ANP leader Zahid Khan said that parliament did not comprise on thieves and smugglers so statement of Qazi Anwar was grave disrespect to dignity and honour of this august house. He demanded of the chair to take exception of the issue as it was seriously dangerous for parliament and the Supreme Court simultaneously. He asked Qazi Anwar to point out smugglers and thieves from the parliament House.
Senator Maula Bakhash termed the statement of Qazi Anwar was a conspiracy to put institutions in conflict with each other. He urged judiciary and Supreme Court to take strong note of the statement as such statements could cause institutional confrontation. Senators started raising voices at the same time in the favour of parliament and condemnation of the statement Qazi Anwar and demanded of the chair to refer the matter of breach of privilege to the concerned standing committee. At this Chairman Senate Farooq Hamid Naek said that matter could be referred to the concerned committee after motion was tabled properly and in black and white with the sense of the House.
It was stated that Qazi Anwar had been a parliamentarian and he (Qazi) himself was charged for being convict during his election and a petition in this regard was still pending in the court. At this Jamal Khan Leghari moved privilege motion signed by 17 Senators by reading out the text which stated that statement by SCBA President Qazi Anwar was breach of privilege of the entire House in which he said parliamentarians as thieves and smugglers.
The Chairman asked the Leader of the House whether government opposed it or not, however, Nayyar Hussain Bokhari did not oppose and the Chairman then referred to the concerned standing committee for further discussion. Source: Pak Observer
Here is how the lower house (National Assembly) reacted:
The statement of President Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) Qazi Anwar in which he labelled the parliamentarians as “smugglers” made the legislators protest strongly against these remarks in the National Assembly and urged the House to move a joint privilege motion against these remarks.
Raising the issue on a point of order on Monday, PML-Q legislator Waqas Akram Sheikh contended that the SCBA president had declared all the parliamentarians “thieves and smugglers” without any evidence and thus insulted parliament that is a supreme body.
He proposed for a joint privilege motion of the House against such remarks so that no body could level charges against parliamentarians without any evidence.PML-N legislator Khawaja Saad Rafiq declared the SCBA president as an unbalanced person, who should not be taken seriously yet he opposed any motion against him.
But PPP legislator Nadeem Afzal Gondal, who supported Sheikh Waqas Akram’s view of presenting the joint privilege motion against the SCBA president’s remarks, at the same expressed the desire that some anchor persons and a section of the media should also be included in it.
Source: Pak Tribune
There was also a reaction witnessed in the Sindh Assembly:
MPAs take strong exception to SCBA president’s comment
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Karachi: Sindh Assembly members on Monday took strong exception to the statement of President Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) Qazi Anwar and termed it an insult to the august house.
PPP’s parliamentary leader Pir Mazhar-ul-Haq said that the SCBA president had breached the privilege of legislators by saying that “smugglers and rogues” were sitting in the parliament. He condemned such attitude of the leader of lawyers’ body, saying that the lawyers were supposed to follow their code of conduct, which calls for using cautious language and avoiding allegations. He said that good and bad people happen to be everywhere but it was not advisable to generalize the matter.
Minister for Law Mohammed Ayaz Soomro said that parliament was a supreme body that makes the constitution. MQM’s Shoaib Bukhari said that Qazi Anwar has “belittled” his stature by using such awkward language. He said that Supreme Court exists because of parliament, adding, if the lawyers continued this attitude the people might stop respecting them.
Speaker Nisar Ahmed Khuhro observed that the legislators could move a privilege motion to summon the SCBA president before the PA body.
Source: The News
Despite all these protests in various parts of the parliament, the acting president of SCBA criticized the parliamentarians who are demanding legal action against Qazi Anwar.
SCBA defends Qazi’s statement against legislators
Wednesday, 31 Mar, 2010
QUETTA: Acting President Supreme Court Bar Association Amanullah Kanrani has defended the statement of the Bar President Qazi Anwar about the parliamentarians and said that he has exposed the real face of these legislators.
Speaking at a news conference in Quetta, he said TV talk shows and newspapers are replete with serious allegations of the parliamentarians against one another.
He criticized the parliamentarians who are demanding legal action against Qazi Anwar for his statement against them.
He questioned whether the parliamentarians were really proud of their autonomy and why they do not stop the US drone attacks in Pakistan and get Dr Aafia released from American detention.
He underlined the need for the full implementation of the 16 December 2009 judgment of the Supreme Court and termed the PML-N’s suggestion of formation of five-member judicial commission for appointment of judges in apex court as feasible and suitable.—DawnNews
In the words of Farrukh Khan Pitafi:
Politicians, we know, are among the most criticised species in this country. Mind you, it was an elected prime minister who was hanged, not any civil, military or judicial bureaucrat. And yet Mian saab, despite being a politician himself, has found allies in Qazi Anwar who has publicly called all parliamentarians smugglers, waderas and fake degree holders. Mind you, I am no fan of Jamshed Dasti; actually I have been one of his foremost critics, but the way he was treated [by the Supreme Court] has left a bad taste in my mouth.
The issue of vilification of parliamentarians has also been taken up in detail by Mr I. A. Rehman in his article in Dawn on 1 April 2010. We provide below an excerpt of Mr Rehman’s article which might be of interest to the LUBP readers:
The chief of the lawyers’ association, who is respected widely for his white hair, has questioned the notion of parliament’s supremacy and challenged anyone to show where this idea is mentioned in the constitution. One wonders how he has missed the third line of the sacred Objectives Resolution which says the chosen representatives of the people are the only source of the state’s power and authority.
Everybody knows that the Supreme Court Bar cannot be condemned for the sins of its past presidents who had been removed/made to resign from high judicial office for misconduct. The whole parliament cannot be castigated for the faults of a few or many weaklings among its members. Likewise anyone who tries to pass a judgment on the judiciary because a couple of senior judges were removed by the Supreme Judicial Council will surely be declared guilty of serious mischief.
The unwise friends (self-styled) of the judiciary who are playing up the case of parliamentarians’ fake degrees need to be reminded that failure to decide the madressah degrees case for five years is a dark blot on the fair name of the judiciary. The election of over 50 legislators was challenged in the Supreme Court soon after the 2002 election. Many of the respondents refused to answer summons and issued statements in defiance of the court. They were not hauled up for contempt; they were not even chastised. Many stories of degrees having been bought for a few hundred rupees were common. Ultimately the petition became infructuous as new elections had been held. The people’s expectation of a finding on the election of people who were ineligible remained unrealised.
One may also point out that in India impeachment by parliament is the only way to remove a judge for corruption/misconduct. The provision has been criticised on several grounds but never on the ground that many of the MPs have a criminal record (which may be true).
The upshot of the whole discussion is that it is time to stop vilifying parliament and other institutions of democratic governance. If the practice of abusing parliamentarians left, right and centre, started by authoritarian rulers, continues the transition to democracy will never be completed. The parliamentarians are no angels — nor are angels visible anywhere else — but they are entitled to respect as representatives elected by the people.
As democratic traditions take root the people will have possibilities of electing better men and women to represent them and weed out the black sheep among them. That is the only legitimate means of dealing with legislators unworthy of people’s trust.