LAHORE- While stressing the need for initiation of intellectual dialogue on democracy, Federal Minister for Information Qamar Zaman Kaira on Thursday said that the same would strengthen democratic institutions in the country.

“Decades of dictatorial regimes in the country have promoted intellectual anarchy and tendency to impose ideas through coercion. Now is the time to start intellectual dialogue to promote tolerance and democratic values,” he said while speaking at an iftar-dinner which he hosted for media men at a local hotel here on Thursday.

The Information Minister said that it was unjust to compare democracy with dictatorship, “as democracy consolidates societies and countries, while dictatorial rules weaken the foundations of a country.” He said it was ripe time to ponder whether absence of democracy causes bad governance or democracy becomes the cause of it.

Kaira said holding of non-party based elections in 1985 was the greatest tragedy in country’s political history, adding that non-party elections strengthened clans and weakened political parties. He said PPP-led democratic government had tried to resolve fundamental problems of the country and it had made serious efforts to democratise the constitution of the country besides other achievements to bring relief to the masses.

To a question, Kaira said parliament was supreme institution while the office of Prime Minister was the most powerful office in a democracy, stressing that weakening of the office of the Prime Minister would weaken the system.

Stressing the supremacy of parliament, the minister said that only parliament was synonymous with democracy, adding all institutions co-existed in the absence of democracy, but it is the fruit of an elected parliament that the country had democracy today.

Asked to comment on former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s statement that PM Raja Pervaiz Asharaf should not appear before the Supreme Court on August 27, he said no such dialogue had taken place within the party, adding PPP had always respected the courts.

On the question of Swiss courts, Kaira said the PPP-led government had no objections to writing to the Swiss court but some constitutional impediments barred it from doing so. He said that President enjoyed immunity under the international laws. When asked about launching a military operation against militants, the Federal Minister said the government launched operation in Swat as well as Waziristan with the will of the people, adding the government would start operation against the enemies of Pakistan wherever they would set their footholds. He said the government would not initiate any actions at the behest of any other country.

About impending constitutional crisis as a result of non-validation of executive orders reinstating the deposed judges as stated by ex-PM Gilani, he termed it his personal opinion.

Responding to the same question, Ch Aitzaz Ahsan said that former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s decision of restoring the judges through executive order was final and could not be reviewed. He opted not to answer a question by a journalist who asked Aitzaz to tell the audience as to where it had been written in the Constitution that deposed judges could be restored through an executive order.

The iftar-dinner was attended by Senator Aitzaz Ahsan, PPP’s Lahore President, Samina Khalid Ghurki, party’s Labour Bureau Chairman Ch Manzoor Ahmed, PPP’s Punjab Deputy Secretary, Usman Saleem Malik, Altaf Qureshi, Sajida Mir Faiza Malik, Advisor to the President Naveed Chaudhry and a large number of PPP workers, lawyers, intellectuals, columnists and senior journalists.