LAHORE: The Supreme Court on Saturday expressed dismay over publishing of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s picture on each and every project or initiative of the provincial government such as distribution of laptops among students and health insurance cards for the underprivileged citizens.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar was hearing a suo motu case about disposal of untreated wastewater into rivers and infectious waste of hospitals.

Lambasting the performance of Shahbaz Sharif’s administration, the chief justice observed that nothing had been done during the 10-year long stint of the government. Poisonous waste had been discharged into the rivers and canals, putting the lives of citizens at risk.

“Why don’t you run a media campaign to project failure of the government with the picture of the chief minister,” the chief justice asked Chief Secretary Zahid Saeed while referring to massive advertisements projecting performance of the government with the picture of Shahbaz Sharif.

Wastewater issue plea adjourned for 31st

Responding to the chief’s justice’s observations, Federal Minister for Interior Ahsan Iqbal tweeted, “Hon CJ! It is for the people of Punjab to judge performance in the coming elections. How can you make such statements just before general election? Is judiciary a political party? IK or AZ can make such statements. Politicization of judiciary will be our collective loss.”

“How many times did the chief minister visit hospitals?” the chief justice asked the chief secretary and offered him to join him on a visit to any health facility.

CJP Nisar also criticised the government for spending more than Rs160 billion on the Orange Line Metro Train Project in Lahore at the cost of vital projects of health and education of the citizens. “Who is to account for this whole failure?” he asked the chief secretary who at that moment conceded that the priorities of the government needed to be fixed.

“The chief minister has not been feeling well for a couple of days,” the officer said when the chief justice sought appearance of the province’s chief executive to explain the situation.

Taking exception to the use of CM’s picture on ad of every project, Justice Ijazul Ahsan observed that the state resources could not be used for self projection.

Justice Umar Atta Bandial also observed that the country was in debt but rulers had been spending public money on their projection.

The bench adjourned the matter till March 31 with direction to the chief secretary to submit report on approval of PC-I for wastewater treatment plants in the city. The bench also sought complete record of the laptop scheme launched by the government for the students.

Published in Dawn, March 11th, 2018