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Thursday, March 23, 2023

After Chairman Senate upset, opposition targets Assembly Speaker

According to local media reports, the joint opposition is considering to register a strong protest against the speaker of the National Assembly, Asad Qaiser, for not issuing production orders for its arrested members.

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News Analysis |

Opposition recently failed to de-seat the chairman senate despite having more numbers in the upper house of the parliament. A senior opposition member, belonging to the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), told local media they had been raising the issue for the past many days and in almost every session of the assembly in a polite way, but it seemed that now they would have to devise a strategy to forcefully pressurize the speaker to issue production orders for the arrested legislators.

During Thursday’s session, the issue was raised by PPP’s parliamentary leader Syed Naveed Qamar who said it was unprecedented in parliamentary history that six MNAs were behind bars at the same time.

Besides former president Asif Zardari, other opposition lawmakers under detention are former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s Khawaja Saad Rafique, Rana Sanaullah and two independent MNAs from Waziristan, Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir.

A petition has already been filed before the Supreme Court of Pakistan challenging the production orders of the arrested members of the National Assembly.

It is worth noting that two lawmakers from tribal areas attacked an army check-post and tried to violently attack Pakistani soldiers. Both of them were later arrested and their cases run in local courts in KPK.

PM Khan’s Stance Over Issuance of Production Orders

This comes a week after Prime Minister Imran hinted at an amendment in the laws concerning production orders of the parliamentarians, saying the National Assembly speaker shouldn’t issue orders for the lawmakers who were detained over graft cases and money laundering.

Speaking during the budget session, Imran had stated that the production orders of those involved in money laundering and corruption should not be issued, neither should they be allowed to speak in parliament.

Read more: Opposition mounts pressure on NA Speaker over production orders

A petition has already been filed before the Supreme Court of Pakistan challenging the production orders of the arrested members of the National Assembly. Reports suggest that the petitioner has challenged the production orders of opposition leaders and politicians arrested over corruption allegations while arguing that such orders can’t be issued when the accused is under physical remand of law enforcement. The appeal further entailed that the production orders was a systematic order which can’t be seen in isolation from court orders.

Different Laws for Ruled and the Rulers

In contemporary Pakistan, public intellectuals and social media users repeatedly point out that the law treats the rulers and those being ruled differently which sullies the sheen of a democracy. Ideally, a democracy, or a western-style democracy, is one where there is rule of law and nobody is considered above it.

In the case of Pakistan, argues Dr. Mooed Pirzada, senior anchorperson and prominent columnist, that the criminal justice system does not have the capacity and spirit to punish anyone belonging to the ruling elite. He has said more than once that Pakistan’s criminal justice system is flawed and always favors the powerful. In present cases, the legal system, argue analysts, gives opportunities to those accused of money laundering to appear before the public and incite hatred and violence towards state institutions.

Read more: Rifts in Opposition? Bilawal-Shehbaz vows to name & shame defectors

Political commentators believe that the court now will deal with the fundamental questions concerning the legality of the matter. However, it is the responsibility of public intellectuals, media and civil society to urge the legislator to ensure legal provision which strengthen democracy and assure the rule of law. It is also believed that the present cases shall help improve the political discourse in Pakistan which has generally been an expression of parochial culture.