MIAN DAWOOD

LAHORE – The PPP-led Federal Government has directed the federation’s law officers not to appear before a Lahore High Court (LHC) full bench set up to hear two constitutional petitions against president and the prime minister, sources disclosed on Thursday.

The development took place at a time when the Federal Government is already battling a host of issues including memogate scandal and NRO review petition.

The LHC Chief Justice on Jan 4 had formed a three-judge full bench to hear petitions against President Zardari for not disassociating himself from political activities and seeking disqualification of Prime Minister Gilani on charges of mutiny and to proceed against him for allegedly defying court orders and subverting the Constitution continuously. All deputy attorney generals and standing counsels were asked telephonically on Thursday morning not to appear before the LHC’s full bench if it heard the petitions, sources claimed.

The decision had been taken at a meeting attended by the premier, the president and Senator Babar Awan, sources privy to the development told this reporter. The situation after the formation of LHC full bench was also discussed at the meeting held in Islamabad late on Wednesday night, sources said.

Advocate AK Dogar has filed these petitions on behalf of two different petitioners. He sought directions for President Zardari to disassociate himself from political office of the PPP in light of a decision given by a full bench of the court in May this year. Advocate Rana Ilamudin Ghazi stated in his petition that the full bench of LHC had declared the involvement of the president in political activities unconstitutional. But, the president had not disassociated himself from political activities.

On the other hand, the petition against the PM was filed by Allah Bakhsh Gondal contending that Mr Gilani by deliberate defiance of Supreme Court orders and repeated attempts to subvert the Constitution had ceased to hold the office by automatic operation of provisions of Articles 5, 6 and 92(2) of the Constitution. There are reports that the full bench would start hearing on both petitions after the winter vacation.

A standing counsel requesting not to be named opposed the government decision asking the law officers not to present its view before the LHC full bench, and said this decision would be termed as another failure on the part of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).