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CHIEF Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar presenting an appreciation shield to Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday.—APP
CHIEF Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar presenting an appreciation shield to Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday.—APP

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday gave credit to Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar for laying the foundation of what he described as “Naya Pakistan” by opening the Panama Papers leaks case against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and making efforts to ensure the rule of law.

“The landmark judgement in Panama Papers leaks case laid the foundation of a new Pakistan,” the prime minister said while addressing a symposium on alarming population growth in the country held at the Supreme Court auditorium.

Mr Khan also expressed gratitude to the chief justice for inviting him to the apex court as a guest and not as an accused. “I am glad that I am the first prime minister who has been invited by you [CJP] as a guest and that I am not being presented in courtroom number one [as an accused],” he said in a lighter vein, making the audience burst into laughter.

Hails top judge for making former prime minister Nawaz Sharif accountable for misdeeds

Mr Khan said it was for the first time that the chief justice had brought bigwigs under the ambit of law and made former prime minister Nawaz Sharif accountable for his misdeeds.

After the symposium Prime Minister Khan and Chief Justice Nisar held a one-on-one meeting and discussed major national issues.

“Nobody had ever thought that Nawaz Sharif will come in the grip of law because the institutions concerned lacked the courage to make the incumbent prime minister accountable for his corruption,” Mr Khan said during his address.

“On the other hand the Capital Development Authority took action against me and told the Supreme Court that I have committed irregularities [in the construction of my house],” he added.

The prime minister said that the chief justice had laid the foundation of a new society where no ruler would dare misuse his power and all institutions would work within the framework of law.

Mr Khan said that one of the reasons behind the crisis prevailing in the country was that previous rulers had not made long-term planning, but relied on shortcuts and short-term solutions to win people’s applause before expiry of their five-year term.

“The democratic governments unfortunately only thought for five years without realising that no big project and plan can be implemented within this span of time,” he said, adding that “we are facing these problems because of short-term planning”.

Population growth

Talking about the mission of the chief justice to control unbridled population growth, the prime minister assured him of all-out support of the government for the cause.

He recalled the family planning campaigns run on television in the 1960s and said they were quite effective and impressive.

Giving an example how Bangladesh had controlled its population and left Pakistan behind in every field because of long-term planning, the prime minister warned that rapid population growth could affect food security in Pakistan.

The government, he said, had formed task forces to address population growth and he was glad that all chief ministers were on board on this initiative.

He also underlined the role of religious leaders (Ulema) in spreading awareness among the people about population control in the light of Islamic teachings. “In Iran and Bangladesh population control campaigns are conducted from mosques,” he added.

The symposium was attended by the provincial chief ministers, judges of the Supreme Court, ministers and government officials, including Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider.

Speaking on the occasion, Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar termed uncontrolled population growth the most disastrous issue of Pakistan.

He said the country’s water reserves were fast depleting and on the other hand population was fast increasing, adding that no one in last 70 years had seriously though to overcome the problems confronting the country.

The chief justice asked the prime minister to probe why no dam had been built in the country during the past 40 years that led the country into crisis.

He said that the apex court had formed a task force on water but the prime minister was the only person who could implement the recommendations of the force.

The chief justice said that the judicial system of the country was under severe burden due to backlog of cases.

Referring to some out-of-date laws, he said so much time had passed but required legislations had not been made to update them.

He indirectly told the opposition that the time had come to stop boycotting the parliament and, instead, sit in the house to make required legislations.

Former Information Minister Javed Jabbar praised former president Ayub Khan for highlighting family planning in a better way.

Religious scholar Maulana Tariq Jamil said that illiteracy was one of the main reasons behind increasing population in the country and that the problem was bigger in rural areas.

Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2018