FO calls US report on Pakistan's judicial system 'gratuitous, unwarranted'

Spokesperson says govt firmly believes in separation of powers between executive, legislative and judiciary


Our Correspondent July 27, 2021
FO spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri. PHOTO: MOFA/FILE

ISLAMABAD:

The Foreign Office (FO) took strong exception on Tuesday to the “gratuitous and unwarranted comments” about Pakistan’s judicial system in the Investment Climate Statement released by the US State Department recently.

Foreign Office Spokesperson Zahid Hafiz Chaudhri stated that “judiciary in Pakistan is independent and the courts are functioning in accordance with the Constitution and laws of the country”, adding that the “allegations to the contrary were firmly denied as factually incorrect and misleading”.

Chaudhri said in a statement in response to media queries that the government of Pakistan, as a vibrant democracy, firmly believed in the separation of powers between the executive, legislative and the judicial branches of the state.

“There is no question of any coercion or pressure on Pakistan’s judiciary. The baseless assertions made in the report are contradicted by innumerable decisions by Pakistani courts at all levels that meet the highest standards of judicial independence,” the spokesperson added.

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According to Chaudhri, the statement acknowledged the progress and reforms undertaken by Pakistan in improving its business and investment climate despite extremely difficult circumstances due to the pandemic, but it speculated on alleged shortcomings in Pakistan’s regulatory framework and based its conclusions on unverifiable sources.

“Mutually beneficial cooperation in the areas of economy, trade and investment with the international community, including the US, is one of the key priorities of the government of Pakistan,” he said. “Pakistan will continue to take steps to optimally realise its geo-economic potential.”

The State Department issued its Investment Climate Statements, which provide information on the business climates of more than 170 economies. The statements said despite a relatively open foreign investment regime, Pakistan remained a challenging environment for foreign investors.

They said that “most international norms and standards incorporated in Pakistan’s regulatory system, including commercial matters, are influenced by British law [while] laws governing domestic or personal matters are strongly influenced by Islamic Sharia Law”.

“Pakistan’s judiciary is influenced by the government and other stakeholders. The lower judiciary is influenced by the executive branch and seen as lacking competence and fairness. It currently faces a significant backlog of unresolved cases,” the statements added.

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