Naheed Khan's Petition heard in IHC after Two Years

Written by  Published by:Pakistan Views Friday, 22 May 2015 19:14

ISLAMABAD: It took two years for Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday to hear the case of contention between parties to use the same party (PPP) name.

However, rather than defending themselves against the accusations leveled against the party by former Benazir Bhutto aide Naheed Khan and her husband, former senator Safdar Abbasi, the party’s counsel instead objected to the presence of one of the judges hearing the case.

Separately, however, Mr Abbasi and his wife demanded on Thursday that Asif Ali Zardari step down as co-chairman for making a mess of the party founded by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

It was in May 2013 when Ms Khan, struggling to get control of the PPP name on the basis that Mr Zardari had made the party unpopular in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, had filed a petition before the IHC. However, in the two years since, the PPP leadership seemed completely uninterested in pursuing the matter.

Ms Khan and Mr Abbasi have recently registered their own faction of the PPP, dubbed the Pakistan People’s Party-Workers (PPP-W) and have contacted several disgruntled PPP leaders to form a greater alliance.

On Thursday, the petitioner was taken by surprise as a high-powered PPP contingent, including party Secretary General Sardar Latif Khan Khosa, Raja Javed Ashraf – brother of former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf – and other local leaders and lawyers from the People’s Lawyers Forum (PLF), appeared in court to defend their party’s stance.

Dissident leaders say Zardari’s continued leadership detrimental to PPP, Bilawal’s future

At the very outset, Mr Khosa, arguing on an application filed by PPP leader Jahangir Badar, pointed out that one of the two members of the division bench – Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui – could not hear the matter because a decade before his elevation to the IHC, he had contested the elections against the PPP’s Zamrud Khan from Rawalpindi.

Though, Justice Siddiqui responded that he could hear the case, he said he preferred to refer the application to IHC Chief Justice Mohammad Anwar Khan Kasi.

Ms Khan’s petition, on the other hand, was based on a reply submitted by the PPP government’s counsel in February 2013 in Mr Zardari’s dual offices case. She contended that in the reply, the government had declared that the PPP was not a political party, but a non-governmental organisation (NGO).

Mr Abbasi told media that in that case, Mr Zardari had shown his preference by “retaining the office of president and disowning the PPP”.

Mr Khosa, however, said that after the forming of PPP-W, there was no reason for Ms Khan and her husband to contest for the PPP name.

“Nobody can hijack the PPP,” he said, adding, “similar attempts were been made by former dictator Ziaul Haq, which failed miserably. Such tactics cannot motivate PPP workers to change their loyalties,” he said.

When asked to comment on the reply quoted by Ms Khan in her petition, Mr Khosa said that the reply was submitted by Barrister Wasim Sajjad, who was representing the federal government at the time. However, he conceded that Barrister Sajjad had submitted this reply on behalf of the incumbent PPP government at the time.

Liaquat Bagh presser

Separately, speaking to reporters at the Benazir Bhutto Monument in Rawalpindi’s Liaquat Bagh, Ms Khan and her husband warned that not only was Mr Zardari’s continued tenure as head of the party detrimental for the PPP, but would also harm the political career of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.

She demanded immediate intra-party elections in the PPP and called for accountability within the party, aimed at reviving its glorious past. Around 100 disgruntled PPP workers joined the two leaders and pledged to revive the party.

Commenting on the proceedings of the IHC case, Ms Khan said: “For last two years, the Asif Ali Zardari group was using delaying tactics and on Thursday, Jahangir Badar’s lawyer objected to on Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, terming him biased. This is very strange,” she said.

“Asif Ali Zardari should personally answer the allegations leveled by Zulfiqar Mirza. The police action against [Mirza] is violation of human rights. He was once very close to Zardari and he pointed out some serious issues,” she said.

Safdar Abbasi said that the PPP, which was once a national party, was reduced to the level of a local party limited to a few districts. “In 2013 elections, the party managed to win very few seats in Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhawa, which proves that workers did not have confidence in Mr Zardari’s leadership,” he said.

She also announced that a ceremony to commemorate the birth anniversary of the late Benazir Bhutto would be held on June 14 at Liaquat Bagh “Due to Ramazan, workers will celebrate her birthday on June 14 instead ofJune 21,” she said.

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