News Analysis |
Speaker National Assembly, Asad Qaiser, on Monday banned meetings of all standing committees of the Lower House and convened without the House being in session, all in the name of the government’s austerity drive. The development has raised serious questions regarding the ongoing political tussle between the government and opposition.
According to media reports, the ban on meetings was imposed in an attempt to stop the production orders of the lawmakers who are in custody over corruption charges or other criminal cases. The question of production orders remained under the limelight in recent days when politicians and lawmakers were arrested by the national accountability bureau (NAB).
On Monday, PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari attended a meeting of a standing committee. It seems the decision was taken to put a stop on such lawmakers’ entrance to the House, minimizing the use of production order law.
It was earlier reported that the government had stopped the issuance of the production order of two lawmakers, Asif Ali Zardari and PML-N’s Saad Rafique, after the chairman of the committee signed them to ensure their participation in the meeting.
A petition has already been filed before the Supreme Court of Pakistan challenging the production orders of the arrested members of the National Assembly.
Standing Committee on Water Resources Chairman Yousuf Talpur had signed production orders for both leaders to attend the sessions on July 10 and 11.
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 stated production orders of those involved in money laundering and corruption should not be issued, neither should they be allowed to speak in parliament.
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 the physical remand of law enforcement. The appeal further entailed that the production orders were a systematic structure that cannot be seen in isolation from court orders.
In contemporary Pakistan, public intellectuals and social media users repeatedly point out that the law treats the rulers and those being ruled differently; this 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 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 the 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: Imran Khan: No production orders for thieves
Political commentators believe that the court will now 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 that strengthens democracy and assures 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.