ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, urging the judiciary to exercise utmost caution while dealing with sensitive cases, on Monday said repercussions of appointing a ‘weak’ person as judge has to be borne by everyone.
“If a weak person is appointed as a judge, there are consequences -- for everyone to bear,” the prime minister said while speaking to members of the Parliamentary Reporters Association, a group of journalists who cover parliament.
The statement comes at a time when the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) senior leadership has been consistently targeting the superior judiciary, alleging that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family members were being subjected to ‘discriminatory accountability’.
In an apparent response to the PML-N’s criticism, Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar had adopted a proactive stance in what some circles believe is the revival of judicial activism and a reminder of former chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry’s ‘aggressive’ era.
The incumbent chief justice has, in the recent days, reiterated on multiple occasions to ensure across-the-board accountability, including that of the judicial system and dissemination of speedy and blanket justice to all.
But this seems to have not gone down well with the ruling camp.
“The judges should be very careful in deciding sensitive cases that entail serious implications. They decide about cases related to life and death, mega scandals, matters of national importance, etc.
“Their decisions can change the lives and have life-long consequences. These decisions can change fates,” said the prime minister.
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Though, he did not name any court or personality, it was understood he was referring to the superior judiciary.
“The face of the judges should be brought in front of the nation. In the entire world, parliament monitors the functioning of the judiciary. The judges who are at the helm — take a look at their record. The public should know what they are doing,” he said in an implied yet obvious jibe at the country’s top judges.
A few days back, CJP Nisar made a highly charged speech in which he slammed continued criticism on judiciary.
The chief justice referred to US Supreme Court’s verdict involving George W Bush and Al Gore to solve a dispute regarding 2000 presidential election in the United States as worst in the American judicial history.
The chief justice said the US public criticised the decision based on its demerits and then decided to move on without hurling below-the-belt accusations at the judiciary.
“That was the worst decision but nobody in the US smelled a rat in the motives of the judiciary. If you don’t agree with a decision, fine. You have the right to disagree and critically evaluate any court decision. But don’t cross the line,” he said.
In apparent response, PM Abbasi said the entire life history of the judges in the US and the rest of the world comes under scrutiny before their appointments.
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“The professional, personal and public records of the judges — their actions, views, inclinations and all that — fare thoroughly scanned and screened before a judge is entrusted with the responsibility to decide about the fate of the others — this has been a norm, in the US and elsewhere — but not here.”
Abbasi continued, “Wrong precedents are being set here. The elected representatives are being stigmatised with derogatory terms — and are likened to the Sicilian Mafia. The politicians are being dragged in the courts on the daily basis in the name of accountability. But is it accountability? Is there anyone who can hold a dictator accountable? Can a dictator be questioned for his misdeeds?”
Abbasi put weight behind Sharif, the party chief, saying the PML-N’s vote bank belongs to the ex-premier.
“It’s not about me or Shehbaz Sharif. We are not the vote-winners. Our party’s vote bank belongs to Nawaz Sharif. It’s his pictures that the votes get attracted to, not ours. Like always, for the PML-N, the 2018 elections entirely depend on Nawaz Sharif.”
The premier once again dared the opposition to bring a no-confidence motion against him in parliament.
“If the opposition has the courage and capacity, it should move a no confidence-motion. There are two options to have the National Assembly dissolved; if the party chief (Sharif) and our parliamentary party ask me to dissolve the assembly, I will. The second option is no-confidence motion against me. There is no third option. A few months are left for the government to complete its term. Opposition better wait.”
Later, Abbasi visited the ‘Monument of the Unsung Heroes of Democracy’ at the Parliament House to pay homage to the Pakistanis who “rendered sacrifices for upholding democracy and struggled for civil liberties and rights guaranteed under the constitution”, said an official statement.
Abbasi laid wreath on the monument. Chairman Senate Raza Rabbani, National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Senate Deputy Chairman Abdul Ghafoor Haidri, Leader of the House in Senate Raja Zafarul Haq, Leader of the Opposition in Senate Aitzaz Ahsan and other lawmakers were also present on the occasion.
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