Islamabad: President Asif Ali Zardari has broken his silence on a standoff between the government and the judiciary, saying parliament is the true representative of Pakistan's people and will continue legislating on all issues
of public concern.
Parliament reigns supreme in the democratic set-up as it is the real representatives of the people, Zardari told a gathering of ministers, parliamentarians and leaders of his Pakistan People's Party in Karachi yesterday.
It is the duty of everyone to accord the parliament every respect it is entitled to as it was elected by the sovereign people of Pakistan, he said. The President's remarks came days before the Supreme Court resumes hearing two crucial cases – one on the revival of graft cases in Switzerland against Zardari, and another challenging a new contempt of court law enacted to protect Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf from being disqualified if he refuses to reopen the cases against Zardari.
The apex court had already convicted former premier Yousuf Raza Gilani of contempt and disqualified him for refusing to reopen the corruption cases.
Legal experts have said Ashraf could face the same fate when the court takes up the issue on July 25.
Zardari said since the parliament was elected by the people of Pakistan and was the voice of the masses, it had "every right to continue legislating on all issues of public concern and welfare of the people". The President is part of parliament under the Constitution and the President interacts and meets
parliamentarians as the parliament is his constituency, he said.
No law barred the President meeting with his constituents, Zardari added. The Lahore High Court recently set September 5 as the deadline for Zardari to disassociate from political activities and warned that he would have to face the consequences if he failed to do so.
The court asked the President to relinquish his post of chief of the PPP, failing which contempt of court proceedings might be initiated against him. However, Zardari said it was necessary that every state institution respected the mandate of other institutions to ensure the stability and smoothness of the democratic system.
"In developing democracies on their way toward maturity, some institutions might at times appear to be overstepping their mandate but this is part of the evolutionary process and should not be a matter of concern," he said.
The PPP has pursued the politics of reconciliation and always taken along other political forces, Zardari said. The PPP was aware of the "conspiracies of anti-democratic forces and was fighting this for the last four decades" and no
conspiracies or propaganda could weaken or deter the party from pursuing a people-oriented agenda, he added.
The President advised the ministers, lawmakers and PPP leaders to maintain contacts with the people and help address their issues. He said his son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the chairman of the PPP, would address party workers on appropriate occasions.