Pakistan: SC adjourns PM Sharif disqualification hearing till October 2

Islamabad: Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Monday adjourned till October 2 the hearing of a plea to disqualify Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for allegedly lying to the parliament over asking the army to mediate a truce with anti – government protesters.

The three-judge apex court bench, headed by Justice Jawwad S Khawaja, adjourned the hearing till Thursday due to shortage of time. Ishaq Khan Khakwani of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), led by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, last week filed a petition seeking Sharif’s disqualification for his alleged false statement in the parliament. Similar petitions have been filed by Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) chief Chaudhry Shujat Hussain, and another by a lawyer Gohar Nawaz.

They alleged that Sharif misled the parliament when he said that he never asked army chief General Raheel Sharif to talk to Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri, a fiery cleric leading a sit-in to oust Nawaz Sharif, to end protests in Islamabad.

The army, after the prime minister’s denial, had issued a statement that Prime Minister Sharif had in fact sought help from them. The petitioners have contended that the Prime Minister was also involved in matters related to the attack on the Supreme Court in 1997. They also said Sharif misled the nation when he went abroad for 10 years in 2000 after signing a pardon agreement with former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, but denied making such a pact.

It should be noted that Article 69 of Pakistan’s Constitution says that parliament’s proceedings cannot be questioned in any court of law. But it would be interesting to see how the court interprets the article. Under article 62 and 63, a person known as ‘not being righteous and honest’ cannot hold a public office. Gohar Nawaz, one of the applicants in this case, has requested the bench to constitute a larger bench for hearing the matter.

The Supreme Court said the petitioner may file a plea to the Chief Justice for the constitution of a larger bench.

He also asked the counsels for petitioners to get the transcript of the Prime Minister’s August 29 speech.