'Good to see you Imran Khan', CJP responds to criticism

Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial clarifies 'good manners' are not political

Our Correspondent May 16, 2023
Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Umar Ata Bandial addressing the closing ceremony of International Judicial Conference. PHOTO: APP


The deeply charged political atmosphere prevailing in the country appears to have put echelons of power on the edge. Speaking during the hearing of a civil case on Tuesday, Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial clarified that his remark “good to see you Imran Khan” carried no political implication.

Everyone is deserving of basic respect and good manners, clarified the CJP, lamenting that he was subjected to criticism for offering a simple greeting to deposed prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairperson Imran Khan during a recent hearing following the latter’s arrest by paramilitary forces.

Addressing lawyer Asghar Sabswari during the hearing of a civil case, CJP Bandial stressed on the importance of good manners.

The CJP's remarks come a day after the ruling coalition's - the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) - sit-in outside the Supreme Court (SC) protesting CJP Bandial's alleged preferential treatment to former premier Imran.

The ruling alliance had announced staging the sit-in right outside the top court after a three-judge bench led by CJP Bandial declared Imran's arrest from the premises of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) illegal and directed his immediate release on May 11.

On May 9, 2023, troops of paramilitary Rangers barged into the IHC premises, where Imran had appeared in connection with the Al-Qadir Trust case to face graft proceedings against him, and whisked the former premier away in a whirlwind raid carried out on the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) behalf.

The arrest, or “abduction” as PTI claims, took place before the court proceedings could begin. IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq called into question the manner of arrest, issuing contempt notices to the interior secretary and the Islamabad inspector-general of police (IGP) but maintained that the arrest itself was legal.

Read Amidst polarisation: Controversy clouds CJP’s career

The next day, the IHC granted NAB eight-day physical remand of the PTI chairperson and indicted him in a separate graft case for which Imran and his legal team had earlier boycotted proceedings.

Imran’s arrest brought the country to a standstill, with the government shutting off mobile internet services and restricting public access to information in retaliation to widespread protests across major cities.

The apparent dismissal of proper procedure when dealing with an accused and the involvement of the country’s paramilitary forces also garnered international attention, with global media outlets pointing at escalating tensions between the deposed prime minister and the incumbent civil-military relationships.

Pakistan’s already flailing economy took further hits in the aftermath of the arrest given the political uncertainty and suspension of internet services.

Following Imran's arrest and release, the political atmosphere remains tense with the federal government lashing out at judicial forces and the deposed prime minister accusing security forces of working against his party. As democratic processes continue to suffer, the government's crackdown against those who resorted to civil unrest after Imran's arrest has continued unabated with hundreds rounded up across the country.

Scores of people took to the streets in protest against Imran’s arrests highlighting once again his position as a popular leader. Several of them barged into crucial military buildings as well as residential areas in retaliation. The previous week also saw arrests of prominent PTI leaders such as Asad Umar, Fawad Chaudhry and Yasmin Rashid. Some of the PTI leadership remain under arrest.


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