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Qureshi urges PPP to declare whether it is ‘with or against’ Constitution

PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Sunday told political parties — in particular the PPP — to announce whether they were standing with the Constitution or abrogating it as the Supreme Court deliberates on the Election Commission of Pakistan’s delay to polls in Punjab.

The constitutional crisis in Pakistan deepened on Saturday as the ruling coalition in the Centre, led by PML-N, hinted that it would not accept the decision of the Supreme Court bench hearing the case regarding provincial polls, and also alluded to the possibility of moving a reference against Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial and two other members of the bench.

The PPP is a part of the coalition government in the centre.

Speaking to the media in Karachi today, the former foreign minister urged the political parties that wanted to “turn away” from the Constitution to come out in the open, clarifying that “silence is not an option”.

“The silence that PPP has adopted is not enough,” he said. “Either the PPP stands with the Constitution or it should outright announce that it is abrogating it.”

He added that the PPP was proud of the 18th Amendment but “Bhutto’s grandson decided to attack Bhutto’s Constitution. Zardari has destroyed what Bhutto created”.

Qureshi spoke about how the PML-N had decided to “attack” the Constitution and party leaders had started to “pressurise the Supreme Court”.

“Look at their social media posts in the last 48 hours. They are not agreeing with any Pakistani. Even Rana Sanaullah tried to attack the judges yesterday.”

The PTI leader said that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had earlier invited them for talks from the floor of the assembly to free the country of the mess it was in “but yesterday he said that Imran Khan and PTI will not be spoken to”.

“Sometimes they ask us to come to the assembly and fulfil our responsibility but [at the same time] the National Assembly speaker [Raja Pervaiz Ashraf] is becoming a hurdle,” he said. “I hope the high court will give a message to the speaker so that PTI members can go to the assembly.”

Qureshi accused the government of wanting their own opposition leader in the National Assembly that tows the government’s line.

“It’s a test for political parties. Tomorrow an important case will be heard. On Saturday the attorney general was called to the court but he couldn’t give any solid answer.”

The PTI vice chairman went on to say that the Election Commission of Pakistan had also accepted the Supreme Court’s decision by issuing the election schedule.

“PML-N and PPP also took part in the nomination papers process,” Qureshi said, adding that PM Shehbaz, Zardari, and Bilawal should have had the guts to not submit the election papers.

Qureshi said the government was trying everything to delay the elections and for that, the new bill limiting the CJP’s powers was also passed in the assembly.

“President Dr Arif Alvi has already begun consultations with lawyers,” he said. “The Supreme Court’s powers can only be [un]done through a constitutional amendment”.

He also urged the legal community “to play a role in the country’s history”.

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