Welcoming the recent judgement on Justice Qazi Faez Isa’s review petition, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Tuesday said the PTI government’s attempt to “blackmail, intimidate and harass an honourable judge of the Supreme Court has failed”.
The apex court – with a majority of 6 to 4 – on Monday had allowed the review petitions filed against its June 19, 2020 order for the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to conduct an inquiry into the foreign properties of the family members of Justice Isa.
With this verdict, Justice Isa – who is in line to become the chief justice of Pakistan – was vindicated of the allegations leveled in a June 2020 presidential reference that claimed that the top court judge had committed misconduct by not disclosing his family members foreign assets in his wealth statement.
Also read: Justice Isa off the hook, finally
“It was an assault on the entire judiciary,” Bilawal said in a statement issued here.
The PPP chief also demanded accountability for those in the PTI government “who were part of this conspiracy”. He said the accountability process must start from Prime Minister Imran Khan, who he said initiated this reference with malafide intent of attacking the Supreme Court and attempted to send a message of fear to every independent judge in the country.
“Attacks on judiciary are hallmarks of dictatorships. President Arif Alvi acted as the prime minister’s accomplice in this illegal, unconstitutional attack and as result lost any moral right to continue in office and should resign immediately,” he asserted.
The PPP chief also accused PM’s aide on accountability Shahzad Akbar and Law Minister Farogh Naseem of acting “maliciously and in bad faith to threaten the judiciary” and demanded that they should be immediately removed from their positions and an independent inquiry initiated against them. “The entire episode is a scathing indictment of this government, its bullying tactics, and its disregard for rule of law,” he maintained.
PPP, Bilawal said, has always been an unwavering advocate of a strong, independent judiciary even when historically the party has been a victim of judicial murder and unfair treatment for three generations. “PPP has always stood by constitutional supremacy and has never resorted to intrigues against or attack on the judiciary.”
Rule of law and not rule of men is the cardinal principle of democracy and the PPP will always be in the frontline to defend judicial independence, constitutional supremacy, and democracy, he said.
The PPP chairman also demanded of the government to start respecting democratic norms and end “its campaign of victimisation of judiciary, political opposition, media and all critical and dissenting voices”.
When the order was announced on Monday, Justice Isa was present in the courtroom along with his family members. He thanked God for the victory. Lawyers and media persons also congratulated him.
Emotional scenes were witnessed in the courtroom with tears of happiness gleaming in the eyes of Justice Isa’s wife Sarina Isa and daughter Sahar Isa.
Senior lawyers believe that the real test of Justice Isa will start and all eyes will be on him to see how he will proceed in matters related to the PTI government. A government functionary hoped that Justice Isa while deciding cases would have no personal grudge against any executive authority.