Pak govt believes in supremacy of law: Ashraf

The court has set July 25 as the deadline for Raja Pervez Ashraf to approach Swiss authorities to reopen graft cases against Asif Ali Zardari.

Islamabad: Amidst a standoff between the executive and the judiciary, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on Sunday said the Constitution makes it clear that the "state authority shall be exercised by the chosen representatives of the people" of Pakistan.

"The government believed in the supremacy of law and governing the country according to the dictates of the Constitution, wherein a clear role had been assigned to the legislature, executive and judiciary," Ashraf said during a meeting with Law Minister Farook H Naek.

Ashraf referred to the Objective Resolution, which is part of the Constitution and "clearly states that the state authority shall be exercised by the chosen representatives of the people".

The Premier`s remarks came ahead of the hearing of two crucial cases by the Supreme Court that could decide Ashraf`s fate.

On Monday, the court will hear challenges to a new contempt of court law aimed at preventing the disqualification of the Premier.

The court has also set July 25 as the deadline for Ashraf to approach Swiss authorities to reopen graft cases against his boss, President Asif Ali Zardari.

Ashraf became the premier after his predecessor, Yousuf Raza Gilani, was convicted of contempt and disqualified by the apex court for refusing to reopen the cases against Zardari.

The government has argued the President enjoys immunity in Pakistan and abroad.

On the other hand, Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry has warned that the apex court could strike down any law that violates the fundamental structure of the Constitution.

He has said the court will ensure the supremacy of the Constitution and the law.

During his meeting with the Law Minister, Ashraf discussed legal issues and pending court cases, said a statement issued by the premier`s office.
Ashraf said he firmly believed in the independence of judiciary and an independent judicial system.

Naek said progress on a new anti-terrorism law was "satisfactorily and it would ensure the conviction of terrorists, which had been presently embarrassingly very low due to defects in the existing law" that criminals take full advantage of.

The evidence presented in court by prosecutors "does not stand the defence on legal and technical grounds and resultantly hard core terrorists get scot-free", Naek said.

Naek informed the Premier about initiatives taken to introduce a local government system in the tribal areas to ensure people`s representation in planning and execution of development projects, including a reconciliation mechanism to settle local issues.

The system will also create a local leadership that is important for the development of a democratic culture and for empowering people at the grassroots, he said.

A law to control the theft of electricity, gas and other services is being framed on a fast track basis, Naek said.

The government also plans to amend existing laws to provide inexpensive and speedy justice to people, especially the poor and those involved in minor offences, he said.


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