ISLAMABAD: Against the backdrop of perceived rift between the political and military leadership, Supreme Court Chief Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani cautioned on Thursday that the biggest challenge confronted by the country today was striking a delicate balance between human rights, individual liberties and national security.

“Pakistan’s future is dependent on how we deal with this challenge,” the chief justice said while speaking at a dinner hosted in honour of Justice Khilji Arif Hussain who is reaching superannuation on April 12. The ceremony was held at the ceremonial hall inside the Supreme Court building.

The statement came two days after a strongly-worded message by Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif that the military would “resolutely preserve” its dignity and Defence Minister Khawaja Asif calling parliament the most powerful institution of the country and suggesting to guard it from being trampled by any other institution.

“What the chief justice has said is in fact the need of the hour since Pakistan is certainly under attack from different sides, be it Taliban or insurgencies in different regions of the country,” commented Advocate Tariq Mehmood who was also present at the dinner.

He said the chief justice had rightly hinted at respecting and preserving the dignity of every institution, be it judiciary, executive or military.

“Today Pakistan is at a crossroad and facing its existential threat,” the chief justice said, adding that the biggest challenge faced by the judiciary was maintaining an equilibrium between constitutional guarantees like personal freedom, preservation of human rights and taking care of national security at the same time at this crucial juncture when the country was at a war for its survival.

ELECTION TRIBUNALS: Meanwhile, a three-judge Supreme Court bench headed by the chief justice hinted at examining whether the election tribunals and retuning officers (ROs) were competent to disqualify anyone in view of Article 62 (1 f) of the Constitution which disqualifies a person to be elected as a member of parliament if he is not sagacious, righteous, non-profligate, honest and ameen.

Hearing petitions filed by parliamentarians belonging to Balochistan against ROs and decisions of election tribunals, the bench appointed Makhdoom Ali Khan and Ali Zafar as amici curiae to assist the court in determining whether ROs and tribunals could be called the court of law and could disqualify anyone under Article 62 (1 f).

“This confusion is causing ramification throughout the country,” the chief justice observed.

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