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Justice Iftikhar lashes out at Musharraf

January 31, 2008

ISLAMABAD, Jan 30: Deposed Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry has written an open letter to world leaders, rejecting the allegations levelled by President Pervez Musharraf during his recent tour of Europe.

“I’ve no other purpose than to clear my name and to save the country (and perhaps others as well) from the calamity that stares us in the face. We can still rescue (Pakistan) from all kinds of extremism: praetorian and dogmatic,” he said in the letter handed out to the media by advocate Athar Minallah at the Islamabad Bar Association on Wednesday.

The copies of the letter have also been sent to embassies and high commissions in Islamabad.

Addressed to the president of the European Parliament, president of France, prime minister of the United Kingdom, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Prof Klaus Schwab of the World Economic Forum, Justice Iftikhar reassured that he would not preside over any bench that would be seized of matters pertaining to personal interests of President Musharraf after restoration of the Constitution and judges which, God willing, would be soon.

“I have found it necessary to write to you and others because during the tour General (retd) Musharraf has slandered me and my colleagues with impunity in press conferences, other addresses and meetings,” the letter said.

“While meeting the international press, heads of state and other important personalities at Davos, Paris, Brussels and London, President Musharraf had also distributed a document, entitled ‘profile of the former chief justice of Pakistan’ and accused him for being ‘inept and corrupt’.”

Justice Iftikhar said he still was the rightful Chief Justice of Pakistan though detained in his residence along with his family since Nov 3, 2007, pursuant to some verbal and unspecified order passed by the General (retd) Musharraf.

He said the Constitution of Pakistan contained no provision for its suspension and certainly not by the army chief or bring amendments except by parliament.

There can be no democracy without any independent judiciary and there can be no independent judge in Pakistan until the action of November 3 (when the emergency was proclaimed) is reversed.

“Whatever the will of some desperate men, the struggle by valiant lawyers and civil society of Pakistan will bear fruit. They are not giving up,” the letter said.

The edifice of an independent judicial system, Justice Iftikhar emphasised, alone stood against extremism and if this edifice was destroyed, the ground would be taken over by other. “This is what is happening in Pakistan.”

He asked the world leaders about any precedent in the history where 60 judges, including three chief justices, were dismissed, arrested and detained at the whim of one man.

“I have failed to discover any such event in medieval times under any emperor, king or sultan or even when a dictator has had full military sway over any country in more recent times.

“But this incredible outrage has happened in the 21st century at the hands of an extremist general out on a ‘charm offensive’ of western capitals and one whom the west supports,” he said.

Justice Iftikhar divided the allegations levelled by President Musharraf in the document into two parts: one which was also part of the reference filed against him on misconduct but was thrown out by a 13-member Supreme Court bench.

“The Supreme Court found that the evidence submitted against me by the government was so obviously fabricated and incorrect that the bench took the unprecedented step of fining the government of Rs100,000 for filing clearly false and malicious documents as well as revoking the licence to practice of the Advocate on Record for filing false documents.”

In the second part, the letter addressed the allegations like retaining political lawyer like Aitzaz Ahsan, riding in former prime minister Zafarullah Jamali’s car, creating a political atmosphere, countrywide touring and politicising the issue and political leaders calling on the CJP at his residence.

Vigorously denying each allegation, he said the new allegations dated to the period before the reference had been filed against him last March, yet none of them had been listed in the already bogus charge-sheet.