ISLAMABAD, MAR 26 /DNA/ – Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday termed the contents of the letter written by President Dr Arif Alvi as of partisan in nature, one-sided and based upon anti-government views’ which were openly espoused by the latter notwithstanding the constitutional oath/office of the president.
In response to the president’s letter of March 24 containing five pages and seven points, the prime minister said that he was constrained to express his disappointment at the blatant partisan nature of the letter, “which in parts reads like a Press Release of the Opposition political party i.e. the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
“Mr. President, the Constitution does not vest any powers in or assigns any functions to the President whereby the President can seek explanation from the Government or the Prime Minister. The only reason I am responding to your letter is because I want to bring your partisan attitude and actions on record and to set the record of our Government straight,” the contents of the letter shared by PM Office Media Wing quoted the prime minister as saying.
The prime minister stressed that he was fully aware of his duties and the duties of the federal government under the constitution and the government was fully committed to preserve, protect and defend the constitution and ensure that the fundamental rights guaranteed to the citizens of Pakistan were not violated.
“However, our government is also determined to ensure that no one is allowed to violate the law, create unrest and attempts to cause irreparable harm to the state of Pakistan. I want to further assure you that our government will thwart any efforts to undermine the constitutionally elected government,” he added.
Further responding to reference made in the president’s letter of Article 46 of the Constitution and Rule 15 (5) of the Rules of Business, 1973 regarding holding of meaningful consultations between the president and prime minister, he said, the objection was out of place.
Under clause (1) of the Article 48, the president, in exercise of his functions, must act on and in accordance with the advice of the cabinet or the prime minister, he added.
The prime minister noted “In very limited instances, the President acts in his discretion under the Constitution. Article 46 and Rule 15 (5) (b) supra are what they ordain. That, is keep the President informed. Nothing more and nothing less. These provisions or for that matter nothing else in the Constitution requires the Prime Minister to consult the President on the exercise of executive authority by the Federal Government.”
Regarding the president’s reference to holding of elections, the prime minister maintained that the ECP had announced October 8 as the new date for polls in Punjab after taking into account the ground realities.
All the federal and provincial government authorities furnished the relevant information to the ECP, he said, adding being the constitutional body, charged with the duty to organize and conduct elections, it was ultimately, the ECP’s decision to assess circumstances for organizing and conducting free and fair elections as required under clause (3) of Article 218.
The prime minister pointed out that the president did not object to the use of language and rather aggressive attitude of the former federal ministers who actively attempted to undermine the authority and credibility of ECP.
The prime minister further opined that at the behest of the PTI, the president gave dates for the general elections on the provincial assemblies of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and his decision of election date for KPK assembly was set aside by the Supreme Court.
He said that the president did not raise any concerns on malafide dissolution of the provincial assemblies of the two provinces, that too at the behest of and to satisfy the ego of PTI’s chairman.
“The two provincial assemblies have been dissolved not for any constitutional or legal objective but to blackmail the governments in center and the other two provinces with sole objective of forcing them to dissolve the National and the other two provincial assemblies,” he added.
The prime minister cited that the constitutional distortion also completely escaped the president’s attention regarding effects of conducting elections to two provincial assemblies prior to the general elections of the National Assembly inasmuch, as organizing and conducting free and fair elections under clause (3) of Article 218 might not be possible with the elected provincial government in these provinces.
The prime minister expressed that it was quite saddening given the role of the head of the state that constitution assigned to the president.
In the letter shared by PM Office Media Wing, the prime minister further addressing the president, said that it was a matter of record that previously, he (the president) had acted in a similar patrician manner on several occasions in violation of his oath.
These occasions included i.e. letter for dissolution of the National Assembly on April 3, 2022 on the illegal instructions of the former prime minister (Imran Khan) which was declared as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court on April 7 last year and upon his elections as the prime minister, the president failed to discharge his constitutional duty in terms of clause (5) of Article 91.
“Despite the foregoing and several other instances, where you actively worked towards undermining a constitutionally elected government. I have made all-out efforts to maintain good working relationship with you. However, the contents of your letter, its tone and language have compelled me to respond to it,” the prime minister further added.
The prime minister, while responding to the points raised by the president regarding alleged fundamental and human rights violations as highlighted by media, said that the reference was quite clear as it referred to the politicians and workers belonging to a political party to which the president also belonged to.
The prime minister categorically said that substantive and procedural due process guaranteed under the Constitution under Articles 4 and 10A was being afforded to all.
“All the actions taken by the law enforcement agencies are strictly in accordance with law to maintain law and order and establish the writ of the state,” he said, adding that in all instances, aggrieved persons had approached the appropriate legal fora.
The prime minister further observed that regrettably due to party allegiance, the president failed to note sheer violation of laws, contumacious disregard of courts orders, attacking the law enforcement agencies, damaging public property, attempts to create chaos, civil and political unrest and ‘in short to bring the country to the brink of economic default and civil war’ by the PTI.
He said what had really tarnished the image of Pakistan in the international community and was casting negative repercussions on the future of democracy and state of human rights in Pakistan was the complete disregard of the laws and the constitution by the PTI.
Moreover, the president, on any occasion, had not uttered even a single word regarding the conduct of Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi, chairman PTI, on his actions in response to lawfully issued court orders for his appearance in criminal proceedings, he added.
The prime minister said “May I also add, never in our history have we ever witnessed such aggressive, rather militant, attitude of political order in complete defiance of court orders.”
The prime minister to another point, maintained that his government ensured complete freedom of speech and expression as enshrined in the Constitution.
He regretted that the president never raised his voice or shared his concerns in the manner as he had in his letter, in the past when PTI was in power.
The prime minister referred to the annual world report issued by Human Rights Watch covering 2021 when the PTI’s government was in office, which said “the Pakistan government intensified its efforts to control the media and curtail dissent. Authorities harassed and at times detained journalists and other members of civil society for criticizing government officials and policies. Violent attacks on members of the media also continue.”
The prime minister also referred to AL Jazeera report of last year on the annual World Report 2022 issued by HRW with specific reference to the chapter on Pakistan.
The previous government kept the National Commission for Human Rights dysfunctional for the most part of its tenure, besides deliberately obstructing the appointment of its members and chairperson because the NCHR had issued a damning report on state of human rights.
The prime minister added that there were several reports of the international human rights organizations which reflected poorly on the track record of PTI’s previous government, which unfortunately escaped his (president’s) attention.
The prime minister reminded the president that he did not raise any concerns when the previous government carried out a witch hunt against the opposition.
He said a fabricated and false narcotics case entailing death penalty was made against Rana Sanaullah Khan, then an MNA.
By framing false cases, male and female members of the parliament of other political parties were subjected to the worst kind of political victimization, he said, adding “Even a female member of the family of former prime minister was not spared, solely to politically eliminate them.”
The prime minister said that NAB was used to tame the political opposition and dissent.