ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has called upon the Chief Justice of Pakistan to immediately constitute a larger bench, in similar fashion to the one constituted for the Zulfikar Ali Bhutto case.

The party hopes that the apex court will hold an open inquiry into a letter written by six judges of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) to members of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), pointing out that the letter documents the brazen interference of intelligence officials in judicial affairs, with evidence to specifically target Imran Khan.

The PTI assured the members of the judiciary and legal fraternity that the entire party would stand beside them for ‘judicial independence’.

Addressing a press conference alongside party’s secretary general Omar Ayub Khan and central information secretary, PTI Chairman Barrister Gohar Ali Khan said their party condemns the meddling into the judicial affairs, at the behest of the intelligence agencies. “We demand that an inquiry and proceedings are conducted by the SC in an open court,” he said.

Omar Ayub calls judges’ letter a ‘litmus test for CJP, SJC’

Charge sheet

The PTI chairman stated the letter’s content revealed interference in political matters and the circumvention of due process. He demanded decisions against Imran Khan be declared null and void on the basis of that ‘charge sheet’. He said the letter written by six IHC judges to the SJC was a turning point for the judiciary, citing it was not a ‘letter’, but a ‘charge sheet’.

He went on to say that judges mustered the courage and valour needed to write a letter documenting proof of the manner in which spy agencies, consistently interfere in judicial proceedings.

The PTI chairman recalled that police had stormed Zaman Park to arrest the former prime minister without a certified copy of the order.

PTI Secretary General Omar Ayub said, “The system has been exposed and it is evident that the rule of law no longer exists.”

He said judges were “pressurised” in view of their relatives’ abduction and the installation of bugging devices in their homes.

Litmus test for CJP, SJC

“This is a litmus test for the CJP and the SJC to rise to the occasion and defend the rights of an independent judiciary. If they do not, history and the people of Pakistan will never forgive them,” he added.

He said Mr Khan; his spouse, Bushra Bibi; Shah Mehmood Qureshi; Parvez Elahi; and women members were languishing in jail, whilst innocent civilians were facing trial in military courts. In this situation, he said the onus was on the SJC to conduct an independent inquiry into the letter.

He vowed to take up the issue in the national and provincial assemblies as well as Senate.

“I was not permitted to meet Imran Khan in Adiala Jail despite a court order,” he said, adding that Mr Khan repeatedly told jail staff he urgently wished to meet him.

The PTI secretary general said he made seven attempts to meet the founding chairman but the jail superintendent violated court orders and denied him this opportunity. “I will initiate contempt of court proceedings against him, in addition to hauling him up before the Privileges Committee of the National Assembly,” he claimed.

Hammad seeks international help

Commenting on the letter, PTI Central Punjab General Secretary Hammad Azhar urged the international community to halt the agenda of democratic suppression for Pakistanis in order to “secure blind submission from desperate fascist regime for their narrow geopolitical goals”.

“Is that the dystopia you wish to normalise and leave behind for your children?” he asked all state institutions and the general public.

He went on to state that anyone who would stay quiet would be guilty of it. “Imagine the network of blackmailing, torture, oppression that had been operative and thriving in Pakistan for the last two years,” he remarked.

‘Even judges seeking justice’

In a tweet, PTI leader Moonis Elahi lamented that even the judges had been compelled to seek justice. He said the judges had made startling revelations about undue pressure being exerted on them, threats hurled at the judges’ families, hidden cameras in judges’ bedrooms, and video records of their homes.

“If the judges will become a target of such mean tactics and injustices, what kind of justice do common people expect from the courts?”

he asked.

Another PTI leader Mian Aslam Iqbal stated the letter reflected how the justice system was trampled to take decisions against ex-PM Imran Khan. “If our judges are not able to get justice, what the 250 million population of Pakistan will do,” he lamented.

Published in Dawn, March 28th, 2024

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