Lahore: Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari should "quit political activities" and give up the post of the chief of the ruling PPP in line with a judgement issued in 2012, the Lahore High Court has said. The Chief Justice of the High Court, Umar Ata Bandial, asked Wasim Sajjad, the counsel for the federal government, to present a clear point of view on behalf of the President about implementing the court's order of May 12, 2011 that had said Zardari was expected to quit as the chief of the PPP.
Bandial, who is heading a five-judge bench that is hearing a petition seeking action against Zardari under the contempt of court law, gave Sajjad time till February 6 to file the President's reply. He said the court would decide the matter without any further delay. Sajjad argued there was no such urgency in the matter and considerable time should be granted to seek the President's view.
He said the President enjoyed immunity under Article 248 of the Constitution. The Chief Justice remarked: "Contempt proceeding is not launched to bring punishment only but to get the contemnor to realise his offence." He asked Sajjad whether punishment under Article 204 of the Constitution fell under the ambit of criminal proceedings.
Sajjad said the President was not above the law but the procedure to punish him was defined in Article 47 of the Constitution, which relates to impeachment. He said the President had not violated any law or order of the High Court.
"The case is a consequence of misinterpretation and misunderstanding as the court has not issued any direct order to the President. The President is a symbol of all authorities and he is the face of Pakistan and he cannot be dragged to courts like ordinary citizens," Sajjad said.
Bandial said the court had no intention to summon the President until the offence was proved. He asked Sajjad to present the personal views of the President about his political activities so that the court could stop hearing the case or decide the matter with no further delay.