LAHORE, Dec 3: Supreme Court Bar Association former president Asma Jahangir has expressed surprise at debate on a statement issued by the Human Rights Watch on “judiciary muzzling its criticism in the media through contempt of court powers”.

In a statement issued on Monday, she said it was simply factual and the manner in which the arms of the bar leaders were being twisted to protect the excesses of the superior judiciary confirmed the sensitivity of the judiciary to its legitimate criticism.

She said the media in Pakistan which vigorously fought for its freedom was ‘uncomfortably’ silent over the judgment of the Islamabad High Court followed by the Lahore High Court muzzling the media.

Ms Jahangir stated that unfortunately, those who criticise the judiciary were labelled in humiliating terms by the watchdogs of the prerogative of the judiciary to misuse its powers.

She urged bar leaders to show their independence and not be cowed down by the onslaught of individuals with vested interests.

“They must remain neutral commentators and continue to make the judiciary accountable where necessary, while supporting them fully when under unfair pressures,” she added.

She said the blind supporters of all judicial pronouncements may also take note of the comments made by the International Commission of Jurists, the President of the International Crisis Group and the interim report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of the judiciary, as well as commentary made by foreign media outlets and judges.

Ms Jahangir said all the international organisations fully supported the demands of the lawyers’ movement until the ‘bitter’ end. — Staff Reporter

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