SC asks politicians to arrange for their own security

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ISLAMABAD: The Sup­reme Court on Tuesday advised politicians, particularly the chief of his own faction of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl, to arrange for their own security, declaring that it would not allow election campaign at the expense of the state.

On a suo motu notice, the Supreme Court had taken up the use of luxury vehicles by federal and provincial ministers and government officers beyond their entitlement. Laws allow ministers or officers to use a vehicle not above 1800cc.

During the proceedings, a three-judge Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar summoned JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, secretary general Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri and PML-N Senator Kamran Michael for still using government-provided protected vehicles, but when senior counsel Kamran Murtaza informed the court that the vehicles had been returned to the government, the court reversed its order.

Speaking at a press conference later, JUI-F chief says there is a difference between protocol and security

But the court asked the counsel to tell the JUI-F leader that he should arrange for his own security, adding that he should tell how much hard-earned money of the nation had been spent on the security detail for the Maulana’s protection.

When the court asked about the security vehicles being provided to former president Asif Ali Zardari and Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari in Sindh, senior counsel Farooq H. Naek replied that both leaders were using their own vehicles instead of government vehicles.

The court, however, observed that it would not allow election campaign by different political leaders at the expense of the state.

Later at a separate event, Maulana Fazl expressed annoyance over the CJ’s remarks and told journalists that there was a difference between protocol and security. “I call upon the chief justice and the prime minister to exchange protocol with me,” he said.

Video report of Shahbaz’s house security sought

The apex court also asked the law officers to provide a video report showing the security arrangements at the Model Town residence of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.

The court expressed its surprise under what laws the Punjab chief minister had been provided a bulletproof vehicle, adding that the police posts had been erected in the entire area leading to the residence of the chief minister and cars were parked at the parks.

However, the court was told that all the barricades and posts had been removed from the area.

The court ordered seven former ministers of Balo­chistan to return luxury vehicles by night or face a fine of Rs100,000 per day which will be enhanced to Rs200,000 per day after a week.

Luxury vehicles recovered

The bench was told that 105 protected luxury vehicles in the use of ministers and other officers beyond their entitlement had been recovered from the federal government.

Similarly, 49 vehicles out of a total of 56 have been recovered from Balochistan, Additional Attorney Gene­ral Nayyar Rizvi told the court.

Earlier following a directive by the Supreme Court, the Punjab government had started retrieving luxury cars from the cabinet ministers, government officials and especially from the controversial public sector companies.

Published in Dawn, June 6th, 2018