Allegations of treason are hateful and should be stopped: SCBA chief

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PESHAWAR: Newly-elected president of the Supreme Court Bar Association Abdul Latif Afridi has advised government and opposition to avoid allegations of treason against one another.

“Allegations of treason are hateful and should be stopped. Many politicians including Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and Wali Khan have been branded traitors from time to time,” he told a Jang panel for Sunday Magazine.

He stressed the country’s defence could not be strengthened without stable democratic institutions and unity among its people.

The SCBA chief said politicians have always looked to the army for power and urged them to admit their mistake, and apologise to the nation that they will not repeat it. 

“The army is our national institution so all its powers should be in accordance with the Constitution because outside the Constitution not only problems will arise but also a negative image will be created against the army and its institutions,” 

Afridi, fondly known as Latif Lala, said the top court had declared National Accountability Bureau (NAB) as an institution of political engineering so it was up to to the government to amend laws governing the body.

The veteran lawyer said Prime Minister Imran Khan was helpless and powerless, the government is in the hands of inexperienced people and the masses are not getting any relief.

‘Ready to play role of mediator’

To a question regarding the political crisis in the country, the SCBA chief said they were ready to play the role of mediator between the government and the opposition, but for this, the consent of the parties was required. The Supreme Court will formulate its own agenda for arbitration after consultation in this connection.

Referring to the role of the judiciary, he said lawyers have defended the judiciary in the recent past and will continue to do so, but the judiciary must also prove that it will not accept bias or pressure and will make decisions in accordance with the law and the Constitution.

Recently, the Supreme Court ruled that the reference against Justice Faez Isa was malicious but referred to the case of his wife and children to the FBR, a government-run entity that has no justification. This is a controversial decision in history.

He said that since the creation of Pakistan, no government has taken any step to provide immediate justice to the people. A conference is being held soon in consultation with criminal lawyers. Our justice system is weak and the people, judiciary, and government have to play their role in improving it.

He said the government has not taken any step for the development and prosperity of the people. The government should review its policies to give relief to people. While the PDM is complaining about interference from institutions in political affairs, their protests will aggravate the situation and create instability in the country, he added.

He also said the arrest of Jang-Geo Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was unjustified, and that he should be granted bail. His arrest for the last 234 days is a serious violation of human rights.

Expressing his concerns over the 2018 elections, he said, “The army should have nothing to do with the elections. Instead, the Election Commission should be given more powers and the Chief Election Commissioner should be strengthened.

“The 18th Amendment cannot be repealed, nor can the presidential system be enforced in the country,” he added.

Abdul Latif Afridi said the PTM would have to come into the political mainstream and establish a political party, which would not only reduce the pressure on them but also reduce the number of cases. “The State should negotiate and not push them towards extremism by calling them, foreign agents. I am in favour of dialogue to bring the PTM into the political mainstream and I have advised them many times,” he concluded.

‘Political decisions should be made in Parliament’

Meanwhile, speaking in Geo News programme Jirga on Sunday, Afridi told Saleem Safi that he has thought about the proposed grand dialogue at the national level. Afridi said there has been a major change in thinking in Punjab. There was a time when people thought they were the only loyal ones. The situation is not the same as people accept logic today and think on solid grounds. The superiority of the Constitution, democracy, and rule of law are the prime beliefs of a lawyer. There has been a change in the thinking of lawyers and other people in Punjab in this regard.

He said problems were created for him in becoming the president of SCBA. “One of my speeches was twisted and I was declared anti-Pakistan. Farogh Nasim did illegal things to stop me.”

Afridi said he was not surprised at Nawaz Sharif’s present speeches. “The Muslim League that had called our elders traitors is facing the same situation today as now they are being termed as traitors.” He said the practice to call people anti-state should be stopped. It never produces good results. It is wrong to describe Nawaz Sharif and Mehmood Achakzai in such terms. The political leadership should not be abused or termed as dacoits.

Changes in the NAB Ordinance is not the job of the Supreme Court but the parliament. The SCBA can advise parliament in this regard. It is better political decisions are made in parliament, not in court. Nawaz Sharif thinks that he is being discriminated against in this situation and he will certainly not follow the court’s decisions. He said NAB has not reduced corruption.

Meanwhile, many Chief Election Commissioners have been changed but Imran Khan’s foreign funding case has not been decided yet, he added.

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