ISLAMABAD - Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Aitzaz Ahsan Thursday, while lashing out at the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, said that those attacking the state institutions of the country were leading the country nowhere except paving the way for yet another military coup. 

In his farewell speech in the Senate, the PPP senator said those attacking the higher judiciary of the country in speeches and rallies were actually inviting another dictator to overthrow the democratic set-up — a reference towards the ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz.

Calling upon fellow politicians to engage in ‘self-criticism’ instead of targeting state institutions, he also criticised the PML-N and its allies for ‘maligning the army’ on the pretext of interfering in the affairs of civilian government.  “This army is our army,” he said, commending the armed forces particularly current Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and his predecessor General (Retd) Raheel Sharif, saying the duo always led from the front unlike former army chiefs who never came out of their cosy cabins.

Following the removal of Senator Farhatullah Babar as spokesman for former president Asif Ali Zardari after his other day’s critical speech in the Senate about army’s role and PPP’s style of politics, Ahsan said that he agreed with each and every word of Babar’s speech. “I 100 per cent agree with Babar who said judiciary and military should not cross their domain but this also applies to the parliament,” he said and added: “We the politicians also must not cross the limits,” he added.

He added that Babar had rightfully said that it was frightening when judges quote poetry in their verdicts. This is also true that military personnel breached their assigned role in the Constitution when they distributed cheques having value of Rs1,000 each at the Faizabad sit-in, he said.

The senior PPP remarked that the rulers claim that the courts’ verdicts were written somewhere else but questioned: “why you are unable to expose them if you are sure that the verdicts are written somewhere else.” The anger of the rulers is because they are the products of the flawed system and have had a track record of choice verdict, he said.

He continued that the courts were showing a great restrain as the language used by Nawaz Sharif and his allies for the judiciary was not acceptable. He added that the PML-N celebrated when the same bench gave ruling in their favour in the Hudaibiya Paper Mills and Orange Lines Train cases. This shows their intentions because they want Kangaroo courts and judges like Malik Qayum.

“The way bureaucrats are being forced to hold pen down strikes against the courts is disobedience against the system and again I would say these things will not serve any purpose except seeing a military general addressing the nation by saying ‘my dear countrymen’,” he warned.  He said that judiciary and the prosecutor were criticised only when former Lahore Development Authority (LDA) chairman Ahad Cheema was arrested. He termed the recent strike by Punjab's bureaucrats against Cheema's arrest tantamount to treason.  He further said that it was only allowed for Punjab as the people of Balochistan were picked up even if a leaf falls out of place. "Is Punjab special?" he asked.

Coming down hard on Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi for showing unconditional loyalty to Nawaz Sharif, he said the incumbent prime minister would never exhaust by saying that he would dissolve the assemblies the day Sharif wanted. 

He said that the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was to put the name of the accused on exit control list (ECL) but the anti-graft body is not showing any spine to put Sharif’s names on the list who are facing corruption cases. He said that Sharifs used to appear before accountability courts with a convoy of over 40 vehicles surrounded by the government ministers only to pressurise the army.

“If the ousted prime minister could attack the chief justice of Pakistan so openly, what must [accountability court judge] Muhammad Bashir go through when a disqualified man enters the court along with top government functionaries,” he questioned.

 He recalled that when apex court had disqualified PPP’s then prime minister Yousuf Raza Gillani for not writing a letter to a Swiss magistrate, PPP had been told by the PML-N to obey the Supreme Court order and quit as PM.

But now when the same Supreme Court ruled against Nawaz Sharif for holding Iqama (work permit), he along with his daughter is holding rallies against the judiciary and people are made to chant slogans against the verdict, he lamented.

Aitzaz took great pride in his political journey and his struggle for democracy, saying he turned down the offer made to him by the then military ruler Gen (Retd) Pervez Musharraf who offered him thrice to become prime minister by quitting the lawyers’ movement.

He further said that a former chief of an intelligence agency, who was removed by his party’s government, had “propagated” against him for giving lists of Sikh leaders to Indian government but after this allegation, many army chiefs came and never questioned from him. He rejected this allegation.

The outgoing PPP Senator Taj Haider in his speech said that tension among the state institutions and political parties were not a good omen for the nation. He further said that army, the judiciary and other institutions should work within their constitutional ambit and the judiciary should satisfy other institutions.