Judiciary should be held accountable for ‘unconstitutional’ steps in 75 years: Khawaja Asif


Minister Khawaja Asif on Sunday said that the institution should be held accountable for illegal and unconstitutional steps taken during the past 75 years — deepening the ongoing tussle between the incumbent government and the Supreme Court.

The “tug of war” between the two pillars of the state — the legislature and the judiciary — began last month when the Supreme Court declared the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) decision to postpone polls to the Punjab Assembly till October 8 as unconstitutional and fixed May 14 as the date for general elections in the province.

Talking to journalists in London, the defence minister said: “All the unconstitutional and illegal actions taken in the past 75 years, especially by the judiciary, should be held accountable.”

He made the remarks while responding to a question about justice to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif — who has been living in London in self-imposed exile on medical grounds since November 2019.

The three-time prime minister had stepped down after being disqualified from holding public office by the apex court in a landmark decision on the Panama Papers case in July 2017.

A five-member bench — headed by then-chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar — unanimously disqualified Nawaz Sharif for failing to disclose his non-withdrawn receivables constituting assets from UAE-based Capital FZE in his nomination papers for the 2013 general election, stating that this meant he was not ‘honest’ and ‘truthful’, as per the Constitution.

Responding to a question, Asif confirmed that he arrived in London to meet the PML-N supremo. To another question about his hard-hitting May 2 speech in the National Assembly, the minister said that it was his duty to defend parliament.

“The best solution to the crisis is that all the institutions should work within the ambit of the Constitution,” he added.

Those judges who sentenced Nawaz would be called into the parliament’s dock, reiterated the minister.