The executive heaved a sigh of relief on Friday after the Supreme Court ordered the government to reinstate former secretary establishment Sohail Ahmed on the same post or transfer him to some other department. It deemed the order as a positive signal.
The meeting, a presidential spokesperson said, had been called to take key provincial functionaries into confidence regarding the current domestic situation.
The meeting is said to have discussed the trichotomy of powers between the state pillars- the parliament, executive and judiciary and resolved to uphold the supremacy of parliament over all institution.
“Parliament reflected the will of the people, it is mother of all state institutions and, therefore, it is the supreme institution,” Farhatullah Babar said after the meeting.
(Read: Showdown?: Govt, SC on collision course, again)
The meeting was chaired by President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and was attended by Punjab Governor Sardar Muhammad Latif Khosa, Governor Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Barrister Syed Masood Kausar, Chief Minister Sindh Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Chief Minister Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Amir Haider Hoti, Chief Minister Balochistan Nawab Muhammad Aslam Raisani, Chief Minister Gilgit-Baltistan Syed Mehdi Shah, President-elect Azad Kashmir Sardar Yaqoub, Prime Minister Azad Kashmir Chaudhry Abdul Majeed, Senator Babar Awan, MNAs Rukhsana Bangash, Fouzia Habib, Raja Riaz Ahmed, MPAs and leader of the opposition in Punjab Assembly, and presidential spokesperson Farhatullah Babar.
“The president told us that the government will implement every ‘constitutional’ decision of the Supreme Court. The prime minister, parliament and all other institutions must work within their domains. They should use their authority while remaining within the ambit of the Constitution,” leader of the opposition in the Punjab Assembly Raja Riaz told The Express Tribune after the meeting.
Dispelling the impression of an imminent showdown, Riaz said that everyone agreed that no one wanted a clash or confrontation with any party or institution. “The PPP does not want a clash with any political party or a state organ,” he said. “I think the situation has changed today,” he added.
Sources said the government might not reappoint Sohail as secretary establishment, but would appoint him on some other post within the next week.
A source close to the presidency said that the PPP would continue the carrot-and-stick approach. “It will expose the judges and then back down,” he said.
“We will expose the nexus by using parliament’s floor and the media from time to time. We know who is calling the shots and we are well aware of their designs,” a PPP leader considered to be among party’s policy-makers commented during an informal interaction.
The official press statement issued by the Presidency said: “The chief executives reiterated their resolve to ensure respect for all state institutions and that they worked in a spirit of harmony and within the parameters of trichotomy of power as enshrined in the Constitution. The meeting dispelled the notion propagated by some of clash of institutions and expressed satisfaction that there was no danger of any clash among institutions.”
The meeting also reposed confidence in the leadership of President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Gilani on Friday sought support from a ‘like-minded’ opposition party in case of ‘ultimate clash of institutions’.
The government wanted to avoid any confrontation with any state organ, Prime Minister Gilani is reported to have said during a meeting here with leader of the Opposition in Senate Maulana Ghafoor Haideri of the Jamiat Ulama-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F).
But party insiders said the meeting was a part of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) policy to keep all its options open and enlist the support of key political players if the apex court continued to ‘undermine’ the executive’s authority.
Gilani’s interaction with Haideri at an unscheduled meeting on Friday morning came on the heels of a gathering of PPP allies in the presidency on Thursday night in which they decided to use parliament to ‘determine and defend’ executive’s powers.
“It is the reasonability of every parliamentarian to defend the parliament’s sanctity and authority,” Gilani was quoted as telling Haideri.
Premier’s media office did not issue any handout after the meeting and a spokesperson for the prime minister attempted to downplay the event, saying he wasn’t aware of what transpired between the two leaders.
Sources in the premier’s secretariat told The Express Tribune that Gilani immediately drove to the presidency after the meeting.
JUI-F has always been critical of the judiciary. Its leaders had hinted that the party will support if the government took any measure to rein in ‘unbridled’ institutions overstepping their authority.
There were also reports about Gilani contacting JUI chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, which could not be substantiated.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 30th, 2011.