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SHC directs govt to ensure security

May 12, 2007

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Karachi, May 10: The Sindh High Court on Friday said that Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry would be free to choose his route during his visit to Karachi on Saturday and directed the Sindh government to ensure fool-proof security for him.

A division bench, comprising Justice Sarmad Jalal Usmani and Justice Ali Sain Dino Metlo, issued the directive while hearing a petition filed by the Pakistan International Human Rights Organisation that expressed concerns over the security plan for the CJ. The petitioner had requested the court to issue directives to the federal and provincial governments to provide fool-proof security to the CJ during his visit to the Quaid-e-Azam’s mausoleum and address to lawyers.

The SHC also directed authorities not to pressurise the CJP into changing his route and keep him informed about any security risks.

The petition pointed out that there had been reports in the press that the Sindh Home Secretary had written a letter to the CJ requesting him to postpone his Karachi visit because of intelligence reports indicating a threat of a terrorist attack.

The petitioner’s counsel, Advocate Syed Shafqat Ali, also cited a statement of the Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Javed Iqbal Cheema saying that it was the responsibility of the Sindh government to provide security to the CJ and the people participating at public meetings in its jurisdiction The spokesman had advised the CJ to not to attend the lawyers’ function in Karachi.

Representing the federal government, Standing Counsel Mehmood Alam Rizvi sought time to seek direction in the matter. The SHC observed that it was an urgent matter and allowed three hours’ time. Later, Mr Rizvi stated that due to the short time, he was not able to contact the concerned authorities.

Mr Rizvi said that it was undoubtedly the responsibility of the government to ensure security for the CJ, but it was practically impossible to control a mob. Besides, he said, there was information about terrorist activities during the CJ’s visit and the latter had been informed about it.

In view of the sensitivity of the issue, he said, the SHC should direct the Sindh government to provide a helicopter to the CJ so that he could safely reach the Sindh High Court premises to address the bar’s programme.

The division bench rejected the standing counsel’s request and said the CJ would be free to go anywhere he wanted and directed the authorities concerned to ensure fool-proof security.—PPI