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Will opposition bring down government?

Before Eid, the opposition parties had announced to hold APC within the first 10 days after Eid where they will decide for a street or a protest movement against the incumbent government over inflation, PTM, presidential references, IMF deal, weak economy and policies. After Eid, they said, the opposition parties were ready to come out on the roads. In the coming days, it will be important to see how it will impact the nature and direction of the Imran Khan government.

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News Desk |

Leaders of the opposition parties are set to launch protests inside and outside the parliament and hold an All Parties Conference (APC) to chalk out a joint strategy on how to tackle the problems facing Pakistan. Various factors, including inflation, the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) and filing of references against judges, may lead to some kind of political agitation in the coming days. The political experts say it will not only be a headache but a challenge for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led government.

Before Eid ul Fitr, the opposition parties had announced to hold APC within the first 10 days after Eid where they will decide for a street or a protest movement against the incumbent government over inflation, PTM, presidential references, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) deal, weak economy and policies.

In 2007, Aitezaz Ahsan had done the same when a presidential reference was filed against the then chief justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry over ‘misconduct’.

In the latest statement, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has announced that he will embark on the protest campaign against the PTI government from June 10. He told party leaders and workers at Peoples Secretariat in Nawabshah on Thursday that in the first leg of the campaign he will begin mobilizing the people for protest.

“Whether it be the movement for restoration of democracy (MRD) or some other movement, PPP workers must ensure vigorous participation. The workers will also play an active role in the movement against the selected government,” Dawn quoted him as saying. He termed the PTI government enemy of the poor of Pakistan.

Also, the PPP’s leader Qamar Zaman Kaira said that the combined opposition will ‘fix the government’ in the interest of people. He said the opposition does not want to derail the government if it changes its attitude, adding the opposition offered its assistance to the government for the betterment of the country but they taunted at the opposition.

Read more: Is opposition planning to initiate an anti-government movement?

“We have no plans to topple the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) government,” Kaira said, “the government is planning to drop a bomb on masses in its upcoming budget and will face consequences as the opposition is ready to come out on roads.” He said that the government will face stern opposition in and outside of the parliament.

PTM, Lawyer Bodies Get Support from PPP, PML-N

The Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) got a resonant support from the opposition parties’ leadership, especially, the PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.

“We have slammed each other for being a traitor but the process of distributing treason certificates should stop now,” Kaira was quoted by media as saying, adding that once Mohsin Dawar was called ‘a national hero’ but suddenly he has been declared a traitor. He said Dawar should be investigated if there are proofs of foreign funding against him but every institution should work under its constitutional limits.

The presidential reference had accused ex-CJP of using his influence over the federal bureaucracy for the promotion and furtherance of his son Arslan Iftikhar’s career.

PML-N’s vice president Maryam Nawaz also tweeted about PTM but the PML-N, as a party, has more openly pronounced its support for the lawyer bodies that have taken a stance against the federal government over filing of two references against the superior courts’ judges in the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC).

Recently, the federal government through President Arif Alvi had filed references against Supreme Court judge Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Sindh High Court judge Justice K K Agha over non-disclosure of their spouses’ foreign properties in their wealth statements.

Apparently, the political analysts said, the opposition parties might derive greater support, strength and potential if they manage to bring lawyers on the street. Interestingly, the lawyer bodies are also planning to file a separate petition requesting the chief justice of Pakistan to form a larger bench to hear the presidential references filed against the incumbent judges.

Read more: PML-N, PPP set to launch anti-government protest after Eid

Presidential Reference Against Ex-CJP Iftikhar Chaudhry

In 2007, Aitezaz Ahsan had done the same when a presidential reference was filed against the then chief justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry over ‘misconduct’. As a result of it, the former CJP Chaudhry was suspended but the reference could never be heard because of the subsequent developments that ultimately turned into lawyers’ movement.

The presidential reference had accused ex-CJP of using his influence over the federal bureaucracy for the promotion and furtherance of his son Arslan Iftikhar’s career.

Legal experts in the capital believe that it was a fit case of misconduct if the SJC had taken up the reference. In the next six years – from 2007 to 2013 – Chaudry changed the structure, direction and complexion of the whole judiciary, they said, adding the opposition parties and lawyers want to repeat the same in 2019.

The opposition is not united on national issues, but to protect its own petty interests and looted wealth. He added that these were also the reasons for the opposition’s recent agitation.

Only time will tell if they can repeat history as the critiques say that the argument that the reference should not be heard at all is a weak argument. The government is constantly saying that the right forum to file a reference against the judges is the SJC not a political debate, adding that it was the only rightful and legal forum to hear such cases.

The SJC – a constitutional body tasked with scrutinizing the conduct of superior court judges – is the only forum for initiating action against judges over misconduct. It consists of five top judges. Composition of the SJC will be very important in this matter.

Currently, Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, who is retiring in December, is the chairman of the council. Other members are: Justice Gulzar Ahmad, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, Chief Justice Sindh High Court Justice Ahmed Ali M Shaikh and Chief Justice Peshawar High Court Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth.

Read more: Supreme Judicial Council set to hear references against two judges from…

Legal experts say the addition of Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed as SJC member will be significant as “he is going to retire in August”. Justice Gulzar is said to be the future chief justice of Pakistan.

Will Lawyers Get the Same Support as they Got in 2007?

In 2007, some political analysts said, the lawyers had political, foreign and media support. It is widely believed that the then head of the intelligence community, General Pervez Kayani, had secretly supported the lawyers’ movement. Behind the scene, it is believed, ex-CJP Chaudhry, some political parties and a faction of media had the general’s backing.

At the moment, the political commentators say, the government is confident that the lawyers’ movement will not yield the desired results as no such division exist between Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

Also, they say, Justice Isa’s case seems to be weak because he has decided to fight the case before media and people instead of presenting a strong defence before the SJC. His move to fight case politically, they added, has strengthened government’s resolve that the cases have rightfully been filed before the legal forum.

Read more: Is CJP in trouble after another reference is filed against him?

The political experts also said that it will be important to see how the government responds to it and how the media takes up the issues. More importantly, they said, it would be interesting to see how it will impact the nature and direction of the Imran Khan government.

Governor says Grand Alliance No Threat to PTI

Meanwhile, Punjab Governor Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar stressed that his government was not feeling threatened by any grand alliance. “The opposition is not united on national issues, but to protect its own petty interests and looted wealth.” He added that these were also the reasons for the opposition’s recent agitation.

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