HYDERABAD: Pakistan Justice and Democratic Party (PJDP) head and a former Supreme Court chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry on Saturday lashed out at ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif for resorting to running a smear campaign against the judiciary after being disqualified in the Panama Papers case.
He was speaking at a reception hosted for him by the Hyderabad District Bar Association (HDBA) here on Saturday. He recalled that it was Hyderabad where the entire lower and higher judiciary had gathered to attend a convention of lawyers after he [Justice Chaudhry] was deposed in March 2007 by the then military dictator.
“Today, some politicians think that they are indispensable for Pakistan,” he observed, and said that Nawaz Sharif and his family resorted to launching a smear campaign against the judiciary after he was disqualified by the apex court which was highly condemnable. “Thankfully, today’s judiciary is not the one that used to validate dictatorial rule. It’s time for people to stand with the judiciary in order to strengthen it once again. It’s the judiciary that got itself independence after lawyers’ movement. Now neither a dictator nor a corrupt [leader] — who doesn’t believe in supremacy of Constitution and respect for institutions — can usurp powers,” he remarked.
Nawaz, family condemned for running ‘anti-judiciary campaign’
Justice Chaudhry said that Pakistan was at the crossroads; therefore, lawyers should come forward as they had always done to save the country. They should forge unity in their rank and file and play their due role against those forces which were insulting the judiciary and institutions, he added. These forces, he warned, wanted to see collapse of institutions so that they could usurp powers again to decide people’s destiny. “If anyone is there to counter them, it’s lawyers’ fraternity,” he said, and argued that it had set such a precedent in the recent past.
Observing that people still lacked basic facilities such as education, healthcare and safe drinking water while stock exchanges’ figures recorded a downward trend, the PJDP chief criticised Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi for looking to his disqualified predecessor for governance [guidelines].
The former CJP said that sit-ins in the country over Khatm-i-Nubuwwat issue were held because the government had conspired against this law. The protests spread as every Muslim stood up [against the conspiracy], he said, and deplored that even then the government did not behave in a responsible manner. The country’s capital remained closed for 22 days.
“In order to get Nawaz Sharif re-elected as president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the party had to make an amendment to Section 203 of the Electoral Act 2017, under which the Election Order 2002 had already been approved through the 17th and 18th Amendments. “It was amended overnight,” he said.
Justice Chaudhry noted that contempt of court was committed by challenging the apex court verdict to show that politicians could get themselves elected in the legislature on the basis of their parliamentary strength. He urged lawyers to launch a campaign against it and take steps to keep such people away from politics. He said his party had already filed such a petition in the apex court.
HDA president Imdad Unnar and general secretary Khuda Bukhsh Leghari, as well as other senior lawyers were present at the gathering.
Published in Dawn, December 10th, 2017