Uncalled for pressure

Published May 17, 2024

THE recent press conferences by Senators Faisal Vawda and Talal Chaudhry, where they demanded evidence from judges regarding allegations of interference by intelligence agencies in judicial affairs, reflect a troubling disregard for the judiciary’s sanctity. Their outbursts are unjustified, as the SC is already addressing the matter. The six IHC judges collectively addressed their concerns in a letter to the Supreme Judicial Council and Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa has taken suo motu notice of the issue. It is up to the judiciary to investigate and decide on such serious matters internally. External pressures and public demands for evidence compromise the integrity of the process and create undue controversy. Moreover, singling out Justice Babar Sattar, as Senator Vawda did, is egregious, at a time when the judge and his family have already been subjected to a vilification campaign. Such personal attacks are not only malicious but also detract from the substantive issues at hand. It is essential to remember that the allegations were not made by a single judge in isolation but were a collective expression of concern from multiple judges. Therefore, targeting Justice Sattar undermines the collective voice and courage of the judiciary.

The timing and nature of these pressers are highly questionable. The matter is sub judice, and it is inappropriate to publicly question the integrity of the judges while the court is still reviewing the case. Senators Vawda and Chaudhry have politicised a judicial issue, making one question the motive behind such stunts. In addition, Senator Vawda’s call for ‘institutions’ not to be targeted rings hollow in light of his own actions. By publicly criticising the judiciary and demanding evidence in such a confrontational manner, he is guilty of the very behaviour he condemns. If the judiciary’s history and performance are to be scrutinised, it should be done through proper legal routes, not through media spectacles. The politicians’ outspokenness has reportedly drawn the attention of the SC, which is expected to hear the matter today. It is vital for Pakistan’s institutions that each respects the role and jurisdiction of the other. The judiciary must be allowed to operate independently, free from external ‘demands’. Public trust in the judicial system is paramount, and it is damaged when political figures exploit sensitive issues for their own agendas.

Published in Dawn, May 17th, 2024

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