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A judge is judged in NA, with walkout

March 17, 2010

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Justice Khawaja Mohammad Sharif (R), as reported in a section of the press, said that while terrorist bomb blasts were being carried out by Muslims, “money used for this came from Hindus”. - Photo by APP.

ISLAMABAD It was a rare, judge's turn to be judged in the National Assembly on Tuesday as Hindu members staged a walkout to protest at reported remarks by the Lahore High Court (LHC) chief justice alleging Hindu financing of terror attacks in the country.

Some members of the Awami National Party too joined the first walkout against the judiciary in Pakistan's parliament before the protesters were brought back to hear words of sympathy for the injured sentiments and some advice for judges to focus on delivering justice rather than publicity despite a government minister's statement that the remark by Justice Khawaja Mohammad Sharif while hearing a case in Lahore on Thursday seemed to be “a slip of the tongue”.

The protest was the second raised in the house over press reports in as many days after sharp criticism of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif over his appeal to Taliban in a speech to a seminar in Lahore on Sunday to spare his province terror attacks because of some shared views with his PML-N party.

PPP's Hindu member Romesh Lal, who raised the issue, said sentiments of an estimated four million Pakistani Hindus had been injured by the LHC chief justice's remarks, as reported in a section of the press, that while terrorist bomb blasts were being carried out by Muslims, “money used for this came from Hindus”.

The member said if a country was suspected of sponsoring such attacks it should be named, but blame should not be put on just Hindus who, he said, were as good patriots as other Pakistanis.

While drawing attention of President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to what he called worry caused to Hindus, he appealed to Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry to take suo motu notice of Justice Sharif's remarks.

As Inter-Provincial Coordination Minister Pir Aftab Shah Jilani and some other members of the ruling PPP went out of the chamber to persuade the protesters to return, party chief whip and Labour and Manpower Minister Khurshid Ahmed Shah told the house the judge seemed to be blaming India for financing the Taliban rather Hindus, adding he was sure a clarification would come “by tomorrow”.

PML-N's Rashid Akbar Niwani said judges should devote to dispensation of justice instead of seeking publicity as he also advised the media to exercise “restraint”, particularly blasting unspecified television anchorpersons who, he said, should also be held accountable for their earnings together with “heads of (government) institutions” as often-maligned elected politicians.

Most of the sitting on the private members' day, chaired by PML-Q member Riaz Hussain Pirzada, was consumed by points of order after five private bills were allowed by the government to be introduced by their authors from both sides of the house and sent to standing committees concerned before the house was adjourned until 4pm on Wednesday.