A week after the Supreme Court criticised the federal government's response to the ongoing coronavirus crisis, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Zafar Mirza on Sunday said that he holds "all the judges of the SC in the highest esteem".
In a three-part tweet, Dr Mirza said that he "strongly condemn(ed) the recent social media campaign against the judiciary" and promised to do all he could to "assist the honourable court [and] shall continue to work to serve the people to the best of my ability".
"I have the highest respect and regard for the Hon’ble Chief Justice of Pakistan i.e. Justice Gulzar Ahmed, who is well known for his integrity, competence & patriotism & I hold all the Judges of the SC in the highest esteem," the SAPM said.
At the same time, Mirza insisted that Pakistan's response to the current health crisis is "amongst the best responses in the world from both disease control and social mitigation perspectives".
"Let's continue to keep it this way," he said.
Mirza's tweets come days after it was reported that the prime minister had chided the SAPM for his “irresponsible” attitude during his recent appearance before the Supreme Court.
Sources had told Dawn that Prime Minister Imran Khan had taken serious note of Mirza’s “non-serious” attitude and assailed him for not presenting the untiring efforts of the government to control the pandemic in the country properly.
A source said the prime minister was of the view that the special assistant was duty-bound to present the government’s achievements in the fight against coronavirus in an “effective” and “humble” manner. The prime minister observed that the SAPM, during his recent appearance before the Supreme Court, had failed to give satisfactory replies to the court’s queries.
Later, a notice issued by the Prime Minister Office had stated that PM Imran had taken a very serious view of “the recent campaign on social media in which uncalled, immoderate and intemperate language has been used against the superior judiciary of Pakistan, including the chief justice”.
The Supreme Court had taken suo motu notice regarding the government's response to the Covid-19 pandemic, a hearing of which was held last week. The top court expressed displeasure over the lack of uniformity between the federal and Sindh governments in tackling the challenge.
At one point during the hearing, the bench had come close to issuing a directive for Mirza's removal from his current post but avoided dictating it when Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan pleaded that such an extreme order at this juncture would prove to be the death knell.
The court had raised questions over Mirza's eligibility to do the job and at one point, Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed said: "We are not even sure whether Dr Mirza is clean or not.”