ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar dropped a bombshell on Tuesday when he revealed that the previous Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government was planning to institute a reference against him in the Supreme Judicial Council.
“The government was minutely monitoring my activities,” the chief justice regretted while pointing towards former principal secretary to the prime minister Fawad Hassan Fawad who was present in the courtroom No 1 to attend a case relating to the appointment of playwright and columnist Ata-ul-Haq Qasmi as chairman of the state-run Pakistan Television (PTV).
The chief justice said he knew Mr Fawad used to attend such secret meetings, adding that he was also in the know about individuals who used to submit applications for the filing of the reference against him. Some of them were still in the government whereas some had gone out, the chief justice said.
The observation came when Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan submitted an audit report to explain that about Rs270 million was incurred on Atta-ul-Haq Qasmi during his two-year term as PTV chairman.
Observes he does not want to be bitter about the episode
At this, Mr Fawad tried to explain that the salary of Mr Qasmi had been approved by the finance ministry and that the Prime Minister House had no idea about Mr Qasmi’s perks and privileges which were actually settled by the board of directors of PTV.
Justice Nisar deplored that the PM House had no information about the perks and privileges of Mr Qasmi, but they knew about his movement and were bent upon moving the reference against him. And the intelligent bureaucrat like Mr Fawad also used to attend such meetings meant for preparing the reference, the chief justice regretted, adding that he was in the know about the entire episode.
The chief justice, while pointing towards Additional Attorney General Nasser, said the law officer knew what he was talking about. The AAG did not respond.
“I do not want to be bitter,” the chief justice observed.
When the attorney general also acknowledged that according to his opinion the appointment did not seem to be illegal, the chief justice summoned former finance minister Ishaq Dar and ex-finance secretary Dr Waqar Masood to appear before the court on July 9 to explain the appointment of Mr Qasmi as PTV chairman.
The chief justice said the court would examine three issues — whether the appointment of Mr Qasmi was legal, whether the law permitted the expense incurred on him to the tune of Rs30m in the salary head and whether the illegal funds spent by Mr Qasmi should be returned by him or by those who appointed him illegally.
The Supreme Court, which took up the case on a suo motu, had earlier directed the government to furnish a comprehensive report suggesting the package and amount paid to Mr Qasmi.
Mr Qasmi was made PTV chairman after a three-year contract of its former managing director Mohammad Malick expired on Feb 26, 2016.
Published in Dawn, July 4th, 2018