Shehbaz Sharif Steps in as Mediator Amid Judiciary-Military Tensions


Sharif Meets CJ Qazi Faez , Crafting Conciliatory Statement Emphasizing Cooperation Among Parliament, Judiciary, and Establishment…reports Asian Lite News

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has stepped into become a mediating partner between the judiciary and the powerful military establishment to avert a possible disastrous confrontation between the two.

Reliable sources have said that the open letter by at least six Islamabad High Court (IHC) judges in relations to interference by intelligence agencies in judicial matters have the tendency to trigger a dangerous rift between the two institutions. This is why Sharif, who is known to be close to the military establishment has been assigned to intervene in the matter and put it to rest at the earliest.

Sharif is meeting with Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJ) Qazi Faez Isa on Thursday (today) to not only discuss details of the open letter but also to come out with a face-saving conciliatory statement that talks more about value of coordinated working mechanism between parliament, judiciary and the establishment.

“The PM along with Minister of Law Azam Nazeer Tarar and Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Awaz will meet with the CJ Qaxi Faez Isa and Senior Judge Syed Mansoor Ali Shah. Meeting will take place at the SC premises,” a senior government official said.

Concerned speculations of a possible conflict between the two powerful institutions have become more evident after at least six judges of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) wrote a letter to the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) seeking clarity on the interventions and interference of spy agencies and their operatives in judicial matter.

The open letter, written by six judges of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) including Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kiyani, Justive Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri, Justive Babar Sattar, Justice Sardar Ejaz Ishaq Khan, Justice Arbab Muhammad Tahir and Justice Saman Rafat Imtiaz highlighted the blatant and disturbing interference of country’s intelligence agencies in the affairs of the court.

“We, therefore request that a judicial convention be called to consider the matter of interference of intelligence operatives with judicial functions and/or intimidation of judges in a manner that undermines the independence of the judiciary,” the open letter to the Supreme Court of Pakistan by the IHC judges stated.

Earlier, the Supreme Court held a full-court meeting to discuss the content of the IHC Judges’ letter, in which at least six of eight judges pointed direct fingers at the intelligence agencies for using coercive tactics to influence court proceedings, discussed the constitutional and judicial value of the letter and what action can be taken in this regard.

Pertinent to mention here that the latest controversy of a letter by the IHC Judges’ is part of a newly found confidence to stand against the powerful military establishment and its institutions among the serving judges after the recent notification of the SJC was set aside by CJ Qazi Faez Isa which resulted in the dismissal of former senior puisne judge of the IHC Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui.

Justice Siddiqui had also accused the intelligence agencies of manipulating the proceedings of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) during a speech at Rawalpindi Bar in July 2018.

Now, with Sharif due to meet in a rare meeting with the CJ Isa, senior lawyers are concerned of a manipulation in the final response of the Supreme Court in response to the IHC Judges’ letter.

“CJ Isa should have sought endorsement from all the judges before the meetings; otherwise it will not send a good optic for the judiciary as an institution,” said a senior lawyer.

“IHC judges wrote a letter to the Supreme Court and not to the government. The response should be representative of the Judiciary’s position as an institution only,” he added.

“There is no need for such meetings rite now when the country’s largest political party, the PTI, is claiming that they have been a victim of the manipulations of judicial proceedings in the past. Prime Minister Shehbaz should not have asked to meet the Chief Justice. Instead, he should have requested the chief justice to conduct an inquiry into the serious allegations made by the IHC judges,” another senior lawyer said.

The letter of IHC judges’ has certainly opened up a debate on the interference by intelligence agencies in judicial matter, decision and their timings of announcements.

Pakistan has a history of civil military divide and confrontations resulting in military takeovers. This time, it seems that a strong section of the judiciary has decided to take on the military establishment and its allied spy agencies to expose their forced maintenance of matters within the judiciary as well.

While the confrontation can have serious and dangerous consequences, PM Shehbaz seems to be on a damage control mission to have the apex court melt down the heat with its positioning on the critical matter.

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