ISLAMABAD: In the wake of the saga that culminated in unceremonious resignation of Anwar Mansoor from the office of attorney general, the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) on Saturday called upon Prime Minister Imran Khan to immediately remove federal Law Minister Farogh Naseem.
“The prime minister of Pakistan is urged upon to immediately expel him from the federal cabinet in the larger national interest and continuity of the democratically elected government, lest it is too late,” says a strong worded statement issued by PBC Vice Chairman Abid Saqi.
The resignation of Anwar Mansoor and the federal government’s subsequent request for a three-week adjournment in the hearings of Justice Qazi Faez Isa case in the Supreme Court has raised questions about the fate of the case.
But all agree that Monday’s hearing before a 10-judge full court will set the tone of the future proceedings in the petitions filed to challenge the filing of the presidential reference against Justice Isa.
The newly appointed AG Khalid Jawed Khan while talking to Dawn said his job would be to safeguard interests of the executive and the judiciary but his main objective would be to ensure supremacy of the constitution, rule of law and independence of the judiciary.
On the other hand, legal observers believe that the controversial statement by the former AG before the full court was a fiasco since the government cannot win a case while carrying an impression that it was allegedly conducting surveillance of the superior court judges.
“By applying his skills and wisdom, it is the job of the AG to strike balance between protecting the interests of the government and maintaining good relationship with the judiciary,” said a senior lawyer on the condition of anonymity.
The perception that surveillance of the judges was being conducted, as was hinted by the former AG in his controversial statement before the court, would never be acceptable for the judges since, if ignored, this would amount to giving a leverage in the hands of the executive to whimsically use any information received through surveillance of the judges. Thus it would mean surrendering independence of the judiciary, he feared.
Meanwhile PBC Vice Chairman Saqi also demanded a thorough investigation into the episode by a judicial commission while alleging that the role, conduct and activities of the law minister were aimed at undermining independence of the judiciary and continuity of democratic process and thus they were against national interest and earning bad name for the government.
On the other hand, Law Minister Naseem in a statement rubbished the demand for his resignation describing it as non-serious and saying he considered the legal fraternity as his own and family.
“There are only a few factions in the bar which are raising such demands only to gain some political mileage,” the minister said and denied in categorical terms that surveillance of the superior court judges was ever conducted. “Neither this has happened in the past nor will the government ever allow this to happen in future,” he said.
“The government is standing behind the judges and the judiciary” Mr Naseem said, adding that he would always endeavour for strengthening rule of law and the constitution as well as welfare of the lawyers fraternity.
Meanwhile, Abid Saqi welcomed Anwar Mansoor’s decision to resign from the post of AG while submitting to the demand of the PBC and the legal fraternity as well as withdrawing his controversial and uncalled for statement he had made on Feb 18, during the hearing of Justice Isa case, and tendering an apology to the apex court.
However, Mr Saqi said, revelation of certain facts by Mr Mansoor during his talk to the media afterwards that his statement was in line with the government stance and the concerned person in the government was fully aware of it was alarming as it reflected nefarious designs of the government to make the judiciary bow down to it.
The PBC leader alleged that the law minister, being the in-charge of the law ministry, which primarily dealt with matters relating to the judiciary, and in view of his dubious past conduct in respect of filing of the reference against Justice Isa and being lead counsel for Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf in high treason case, and his willingness to become counsel for the incumbent army chief in his case of extension in service, seemed to be the “mastermind of the conspiracy against the judiciary”.
Needless to add that Mr Farogh’s past reflected that instead of believing in supremacy of the constitution, rule of law, democracy and civil authority, he always took pride in supporting and serving the undemocratic forces in power, Mr Saqi alleged.
Published in Dawn, February 23rd, 2020