Islamabad, Jun 21: The people of Pakistan will never permit the undermining of legislature on different pretexts, President Asif Ali Zardari has said, contending that the era of “packing the parliament through back door” was over.
Against the backdrop of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's disqualification by the Supreme Court, Zardari said the people know how to ensure the supremacy of parliament and the Constitution.
Zardari's message came on the eve of the 59th birth anniversary of his slain wife, former premier Benazir Bhutto. The era of “packing the parliament through the back door” by using the defunct Article 58 (2b) of the Constitution is over for all times and “no back doors and side doors will be allowed to be reopened for sending the elected parliaments home”, Zardari said.
“Our people will also not suffer a destiny thrust upon them by militants and extremists in the name of religion or in any other name,” he added.
The President's remarks came a day after a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry disqualified Gilani in response to several petitions that had challenged Speaker Fehmida Mirza's decision not to disqualify the premier following his conviction of contempt.
The apex court had convicted Gilani of contempt in April for refusing to reopen graft cases in Switzerland against Zardari.
Zardari reiterated the Pakistan People's Party's commitment to the supremacy of parliament and the Constitution and the “building of a modern, egalitarian and pluralistic society in which everyone is allowed opportunity to help shape his or her own destiny”.
Zardari said Benazir Bhutto had “led from the front the battle for democracy against all sorts of Bonapartes and extremists”. He added: “She believed in a moderate and pluralistic Pakistan where ballot determined the ultimate choice of the people and where the House elected by the people representing their will was supreme”.
Bhutto “fought courageously against the militants and extremists bent upon forcing their ideological agenda on the people through brute force”, he said. The PPP will continue “its forward march to strengthen democracy and for the uplift of the marginalised”, he said.
Noting that the PPP had survived the “judicial murder” of its founder, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and the abuse of judicial processes to hound Benazir Bhutto, Zardari said the party will “continue to defy odds and grow from strength to strength”.