Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday hit out at the judiciary, accusing some judges of having "double standards" towards his coalition government, a day after the Supreme Court removed his son as the chief minister of politically crucial and most populous Punjab province.
"I respect the judiciary but one has to speak the truth on the floor of the National Assembly," Sharif said while addressing a session of the National Assembly here.
He said that people expect the judiciary to make decisions with justice and the “standard for justice” should be the same for everyone. His remarks came a day after a three-member Supreme Court bench - comprising Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Muneeb Akhtar - on Tuesday night ruled that Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) leader Parvez Elahi will be the new chief minister of Punjab, paving the way for a change in the country's political heartland.
Elahi, the 76-year-old leader backed by ousted prime minister Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, was sworn in as Punjab chief minister early Wednesday, in a major blow to Prime Minister Sharif-led coalition.
"When the courts summon then I think we should go with great respect … but if you have to decide then it should be on the basis of truth and justice. It can’t happen that you treat me one way and treat someone else differently,” said Sharif, who is also the president of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
Sharif reiterated that he greatly respected the judiciary and was only talking about “double standards”. He said that during the previous Imran Khan government’s tenure “no one took notice” of various scandals such as the wheat and sugar crisis, the violation of its agreement with the International Monetary Fund as well as irregularities in the Peshawar BRT project.
"Who planned to attack this parliament in 2014, who hung dirty clothes on the building of the Supreme Court, who asked the public to set fire to electricity bills … no one took notice, everyone was quiet," he said, in an apparent reference to Khan.
Sharif asked the question that how long could such “double standards continue”.
Meanwhile, Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar presented a resolution for a parliamentary committee for judicial reforms in the session, which was unanimously approved, Dawn newspaper reported.
The resolution said the Parliament would not allow any other institution to “transgress and encroach” on its powers. It said that the NA resolved to make a special joint committee of the upper and lower houses to institute requisite judicial reforms, adding that they were “the need of the hour”.
Punjab is Pakistan's second-largest province and any party ruling the key province controls the politics of the country. For the PML-N, losing Punjab means losing the Centre. Political pundits believe that the ruling coalition is now vulnerable.