ISLAMABAD: Political activities of President Asif Ali Zardari in the Presidency as co-chairperson of the PPP continue unhindered in clear violation the Lahore High Court May 2011 order on his dual office.
While the LHC is all set to hear the contempt of court petitions filed against President’s contentious role as PPP’s co-chairperson despite the court order, the Presidency is so blatant in its violations that it does not even hesitate to formally issue press statements about the “objectionable” role of the President as a politically biased entity.
The LHC in its May 2011 judgment had asked the president to disassociate himself from political office at the earliest possible besides ruling that the use of the premises of the Presidency for partisan political activity was inconsistent with the sanctity, dignity, neutrality and independence of the Presidency.
However, the official press releases issued by the Presidency every now and then speak volumes about the violation of the LHC decision as the president regularly chairs meetings of the PPP MNAs, leaders and coalition partners of the ruling PPP.
On June 21, the Presidency issued a press release, announcing a meeting of allied parties held on last Thursday night at Aiwan-e-Sadr with Co-Chairman PPP President Asif Ali Zardari in chair. Spokesperson to the President Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the meeting was part of the consultative process of the allied parties to discuss the prevailing situation and to finalise the strategy in taking forward the democratic process. He said that the coalition partners announced their support to the PPP nominee as the candidate for the office of the prime minister.
On June 20, the Presidency press release said that PPP Parliamentary party meeting was held in the Presidency with Party’s Co-Chairman President Asif Ali Zardari and Vice Chairman Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani in chair. The meeting discussed current situation obtaining in the country after the Supreme Court verdict.
On June 18, the Presidency issued a press release to announce that Quran Khawni and Dua was held at the Aiwan-e-Sadr for eisaal-e-sawab of late MNA Ms Fouzia Wahab, former Information Secretary of Pakistan People’s Party. President Asif Ali Zardari also attended the Quran Khawani and Dua.
On June 16, according to the Presidency press release, a meeting of heads of allied parties held in the Presidency which was jointly chaired by President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani.
June 13 press release of the Presidency again informed the media about a meeting of heads of allied parties held in the Presidency with President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani in chair.
On June 12, according to the Presidency press release, Senator Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain President of PML-Q, called on President Asif Ali Zardari at Aiwan-e-Sadr. “Coalition matters were discussed during the meeting,” the announcement said.
There are dozens of formal announcements of the Presidency of such meetings of President Asif Ali Zardari as co-chairperson of the PPP. While the LHC decision, which was never challenged by the government, expected from the president to stay neutral and independent, the president repeatedly talked of the PPP and its policies in these meetings.
It is pertinent to mention here that the LHC judgement while asking the president to leave the party office at the earliest, had clearly conveyed that the president does not enjoy the constitutional immunity in respect to his political activities.
“These actions are being taken not in the discharge of the functions and duties of the president of Pakistan but on account of a personal and private association of the president with his political party. These actions therefore do not enjoy immunity from the judicial process and call for judicial intervention to enforce the Constitution”, the LHC order stated. If implemented, the LHC decision in the dual office case the all powerful President Asif Ali Zardari of 2011 would immediately turn into Fazal Elahi Chaudhry and Rafiq Tarar of the past. However, he continues to act as the PPP co-chairperson while sitting in the Presidency.
During the recent tension between the PPP and the PML-Q, even the top Q-leadership is on the record to have stated on private television channels that it was the president’s intervention that resolved the political irritants between the two coalition partners.
It was Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, who while participating in Geo’s popular ‘Aaj Kamran Khan Kay Sath’ show, had said that our agreement to join the government was with the president.
Within days after the LHC decision, President Asif Ali Zardari was advised by his legal and political aides to suspend his political activities as co-chairperson of the PPP forthwith as the recent LHC order on dual office was in operation. However, it never happened and the Presidency remained the hub of the PPP’s politics.