Constitutional crisis to lead to martial law: Bilawal

KARACHI, April 04:Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has sounded the alarm on the possibility of a constitutional crisis in Pakistan, with a foreboding warning that it could lead to martial law or an emergency-like situation.

His concerns stem from the ongoing case wherein the Supreme Court (SC) is hearing the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) petition against the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) decision to postpone the Punjab Assembly polls.

For the past week, a three-member bench comprising Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan, and Justice Munib Akhtar has been deliberating on the case.

The apex court has rejected the repeated requests from the coalition government for the formation of a full court bench. The court reserved its verdict in the case earlier on Monday.

Addressing the media in Larkana on Monday, FM Bilawal underlined that if a larger bench is not formed, it could culminate in a constitutional crisis and invite a potential martial law or an emergency-like situation in Pakistan.

He implored the judges to take stock of the current situation in the country and form a full court bench to address this pressing issue regarding the election date.

Bilawal underscored the criticality of institutions’ conduct for the betterment of the nation. He highlighted that the impact of a decision made by three individuals would be dissimilar to that of a larger bench. Therefore, the apex court should contemplate the matter accordingly.

Further, the foreign minister chastised the higher judiciary from within its own ranks, denouncing it as “historic” indicating their no confidence in “these three judges”.

He questioned the decision to reduce a nine-member bench to a mere three after protests from its members.

He also criticised the inclusion of Justice Ahsan in the bench when he had previously distanced himself from the apex court’s suo motu notice of the delay in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) elections’ proceedings in February.

Bilawal also took an aim at SC Registrar Ishrat Ali, alleging that he was a “super emperor” with the power to strike off the judgment of a three-member bench through a notification whenever he wanted.

The foreign minister exhorted the chief justice and the judges to form a larger bench before any further action is taken. He maintained that in such a scenario, the decision of all the judges would be acceptable to the coalition government.

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman said that they would “fight and contest” if any court instructed them to use funds earmarked for flood affectees for the “battle of Lahore’s throne”.

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