‘Nation Needs Orders Not Observations’
08 August, 2007
By Amjad Malik
Sharifs are approaching Superior Courts for a verdict yet again for relief for which one does not need permission in West i.e right to free movement in the country of birth & nationality as free citizens. The early hearing is expected this week where well respected lawyer Fakhuruddin G Ibrahim will open the case and Attorney General to oppose his own arguments. Younger brother of the exiled Prime Minister, Shahbaz Sharif who is also President of Pakistan Muslim League (N) was deported from Lahore Airport to Jeddah on Monday 11, May 2004 when he attempted to return to his homeland thinking that he will be allowed to enter after Supreme Court judgement . Government of the day in defiance of the observation by the Superior Court actually deported Shehbaz Sharif without judicial oversight as exactly as he feared in his court case in Supreme Court.
In that Judgement of Supreme Court: 55/2003 the following is worth noting that no document was produced to confirm there is a contract and there was no denial to freedom of movement rights by Federation, Judgement at para 15 & 28 says, “15. It is significant to note that neither in the comments nor during the course of arguments the Federal Government/ Government of Punjab has disputed the right of the petitioner being a citizen of Pakistan to come back to the country nor referred nor brought on record any agreement/document permitting the government to force the petitioner to live in exile. And at para “28. It is not denied by learned Attorney General for Pakistan and Advocate General Punjab nor so could be denied that Article 15 of the Constitution bestows a right on every citizen of Pakistan to enter or move freely throughout the country and to reside and settle in any part thereof. It is a settled proposition of law that the right to enter in the country cannot be denied but a citizen can be restrained from going out of the country. The petitioner is a citizen of Pakistan and has a constitutional right to enter and remain in the country”.
Still after this judgement he was deported back to Jeddah and that proves the following points: i) The government does not care for rule of law and they found him guilty without trial of unknown charges and deported him under a contract which is unknown and unseen by judiciary and no access to court was provided; Post deportation, 9th March 07 reference against Chief Justice proves that point; ii) The government did not respect the Supreme Court observation that no restriction can be put on citizens on their entry and every citizen has inborn right to enter and remain in their country of birth; iii) the deportation of Mr. Sharif thus amounts to contemptuous behaviour of defying court which continued till 20 July 2007. Legally, he should have been allowed to wait till his petitions were decided. Most important of all, current regime does not wish to see any opposition leader carrying a political profile like Nawaz Sharif & Shehbaz outside on the streets telling the masses what is going on. That is a clear example of weakness on part of the government.
Why Sharifs are in exile is that Nawaz & Shahbaz held the position of Prime Minister & Chief Minister respectively in Pakistan until 12th October 1999, when General Musharraf removed Mian Nawaz Sharif’s elected government by imposing military rule and all his family imprisoned while the old and the young of his family were put under house arrest for months. On the 9th of December 2000, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif along with his family were exiled to Saudi Arabia. His brother Sheba Sharif resisted the extreme emotional blackmail and refused to leave his prison cell in Landhi jail in Karachi. Despite his resistance, he was forced to board the aircraft by the brutal force of the military authority and even remarks of General Musharaf supported this contention in his book ‘In the line of fire’ at page 166, where he wrote, “ It must be said that Shahbaz Sharif initially refused to sign and did not want to leave Pakistan. But we could not have this partial acceptance.” Thus the family were sent into exile. They always maintained that there can not be a contract between a jailor and a prisoner and tried to attempt their return but Govt of the day always created hurdles sometimes by delay in issuing their passports, or putting restrictions when they wish to attend funeral of their father or when after judgement Nawaz Sharif was forewarned by his brother’s deportation.
Its worth noting as to what the Govt have been saying about Sharifs and why Sharifs had to go to court(s) which in fact proved right even after Supreme Court judgement. The following are few statements which were before SC: (1) Faisal Saleh Hayat, Then Federal Minister for Interior (The Daily Dawn dated 17.01.2002): “Sharifs won’t be allowed to return…….” (2) General Pervez Musharraf (The Daily Jang dated 21.8.2002): “If they come back, Shahbaz will have to go back to Saudi Arabia and Benazir Bhutto to jail…….” (3) Nisar A. Memon, then Information Minister (The Daily Jang dated 9.8.2002): “We will not let Shahbaz Sharif come back.” And that what they did in May 2004. Sharifs desired to return but feared removal and on 11th May, when as a result of Supreme Court observation and his two petitions to the Supreme Court where Court ruled that every citizen has a right to enter and remain in the country of his origin and there can not be any restriction put on his entry, Shehbaz Sharif tried to go back to his country of origin unsuccessfully.
Now Sharifs realising that Chief Justice himself has realised the pain and sufferings at the hands of the regime by standing in the dock and after 20 July 2007 decision there is a glimmer of hope to secure justice where justice is seen to be done and not delayed so that it seems denied. Sharifs have contacted the door of Superior Courts once again and a clear verdict is required this time to prevent any unlawful deportation without judicial oversight. These questions are circling in Pakistani’s mind today and only the Supreme Court now can save the future of the political leadership in Pakistan by allowing them a remedy this time to enter and remain in order to practise their constitutional right of taking part in political decision making and if there are any cases on them, they may defend in courts freely. If they (Sharifs & Bhuttoo’s) are not allowed to participate elections being the top two party leaders who will and what repercussions it will have on Federation is alarming.
I remember during French revolution General Charles-de-Gaulle of France was asked to exile his opponent a fiery poet ‘Jean Paul Sartre’ and De-Gaulle said these historic remarks that Sartre is France and how can we exile France. Nawaz Sharif is Pakistan, how can rulers keep him in exile forever so time has come to allow him to breathe freely in the air he belongs. Nation needs clear orders from Supreme Court that From now onwards no one will be deported and handed over to West for few hundred dollars and none will be refused to return to their homeland without judicial oversight.