ISLAMABAD: Days after uproar in the Senate over the purported remarks of Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial, the government’s top law officer on Monday clarified that no adverse remarks were made by the CJP about the honesty of prime ministers in the country.
“I (AGP) was personally present in the court during these proceedings and can confirm that no such observation was made,” Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Shehzad Ata Elahi said in a two-page letter he wrote to Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar.
The letter, which was released to the media, said: “In fact, [the] CJP had recalled the regret expressed by the then chief justice of Pakistan (Justice Nasim Hassan Shah) in the 1993 case of Muhammad Nawaz Sharif versus President of Pakistan, about the Supreme Court’s proceedings ahead…[of] the general elections instead of restoring the National Assembly in 1988.
“[The] CJP went on to comment on the then deposed prime minister (Mr Muhammad Khan Junejo) being a very good and independent man who was removed through Article 58(2)(b) of the constitution,” the letter explained.
PML-N senator says law officer’s clarification to be taken up by house committee
An incorrect version of certain observations by CJP Bandial was circulated on the social media platforms, the letter emphasised.
The letter came against the backdrop of last Friday’s Senate proceedings when Irfanul Haque Siddiqui of PML-N in his harsh critique said that the country’s top judge had no right to declare prime ministers — from Liaquat Ali Khan to Imran Khan — dishonest.
Members of the upper house of parliament while criticising the judiciary had described such remarks as ‘political’ and ‘against parliament and the legislative processes’.
The CJP’s observations seem to have been misconstrued and misstated on social media as if in the history of Pakistan only one prime minister (Muhammad Khan Junejo) was honest, the letter said, adding that no remark to this effect was made by the CJP and yet an incorrect narrative about the CJP’s observations was circulated on the social media.
“It was also inadvertently and erroneously believed without verification by some honourable parliamentarians who commented critically about the same on Feb 10,” the letter said, adding that on Feb 11, their views were reported widely in the national press.
The letter explained that the statement was being shared with the law minister with the hope that he may share the correct facts with his fellow parliamentarians for setting the record straight.
Meanwhile, Senator Siddiqui, when contacted, said that Senate will have a threadbare discussion whenever the law minister presented the letter before the house.
He pointed out that the issue had already been referred to the Senate’s Standing Committee on Law and Justice and when the committee met this letter will be taken up and it is up to the panel to develop a consensus on the next step in this regard.
He said the Supreme Court or the AGP will be welcomed if they want to share anything with the committee, adding that apart from the issue of honesty of prime ministers, there were other issues still left to be discussed like the assertion about the incomplete house that were making the legislation controversial.
The PML-N senator also stated that this clarification should have come earlier rather than being issued after a few days.
Published in Dawn, February 14th, 2023