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LAHORE: Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Gulzar Ahmed has advised former President of Supreme Court Bar Council Ali Ahmed Kurd to stop undermining the trust of people in judiciary by spreading confusion about judiciary and other institutions.

“I want to assure all of you that Pakistan would live long forever, where you will witness rule of the law, and not of individuals’,” he asserted in front of eminent lawyers, jurists, senior judges of supreme court, parliamentarians, lawyers, human rights activists, international delegates, intellectuals, students, and people from various walks of life who were gathered to attend the 3rd Asma Jahangir conference at a local hotel amidst heavy media presence.

Former chief justice of supreme court Justice Saqib Nisar, SC judge Justice Mazahar Akbar Ali Naqvi, Chief Justice Lahore High Court Justice Ameer Bhatti, Chief Justice Islamabad High Court Justice Athar Minhalla, Justice Umar Ata Bandyal, Justice Ejaz-ul-Ahsan, Justice Shahram Sarwar, Justice Ali Baqir Najfi, Syed Kalbe Abbas, Syed Amjad Shah, Asma Hamid, Syed Ali Zafar, Dr Malik Baloch, Afrasyab Khattak, Mohsin Dawar, Manzoor Pashteen, Zahoor Shahwani, Khalid Javed and Shahid Hamid were among the notables.

The chief justice said people should not be made hostage of misconceptions. Being head of the judiciary, I would like to respond to the criticism of Ali Ahmed Kurd, as I do not agree with he has said about the judiciary, he said.

“In supreme court, all the judges are working hard to dispense with justice by protecting the fundamental rights of the people, rule of the law and constitution, supremacy of justice and prosperity of a democratic country,” he said.

According to him, similar was the case of all the high courts judges, as well as, those from the lower judiciary. He said all the decisions are made in accordance with law and the litigants have all the right to challenge them at the appellate forums.

“It is not appropriate to pass a general comment and cast aspersion on the independence of judiciary, and spreading a misconception that judiciary is under pressure of other institutions,” he said.

“Let me say that I have never accepted pressure from any institution. Neither anyone can guide me that how I should write my verdicts nor anyone can dare to dictate me,” he said forcefully.

“No one can interfere in my job,” he asserted. “I write my decisions as per my own conscious and not on a dictation from anyone.”

He said he hasn’t found any judge taking deduction from outside. He urged Ali Ahmed Kurd to visit courts and see himself the dispensation of justice by them. Courts are free in Pakistan, toeing the constitution in letter and spirit, he added.

However, he said, a verdict may be right or wrong but those who are objecting they should come forward and challenge the wrongs, as this is all an evolutionary process.

He said he would not accept any undemocratic process and would prefer to quit. “I will quit my office like I had done earlier,” he said.

Earlier, the fiery lawyer leader Ali Ahmed Kurd had strongly criticised the judiciary for its failure in protecting human rights and strengthening democracy. Pointing out the lower rank of Pakistan’s judiciary internationally (resting at 130 out of 139), Kurd said that there is a ‘clear division’ in judiciary.

He blamed the ‘establishment’ for suppressing judiciary and urged the audience to step forward and get back their fundamental rights from the hands of powerful sections of society. He said both the middle and intellectual classes are over in Pakistan and ‘pigmies’ have taken over big offices, which is challenging the very existence of Pakistan with every passing day.

Meanwhile, speaking before the chief justice of Pakistan, Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Athar Minallah acknowledged some of Kurd’s criticism during his speech, saying that it is very important for us to know what the bar and what the people think about us.

He assured Kurd that no judge who is independent can ever make an excuse that he can be pressurised or influenced. Any such excuse ... I’m afraid ... is a violation of the oath,” he added.

The IHC chief justice said judgements in cases such as the Maulvi Tameezuddin case, Doso case, Mohtarma Nusrat Bhutto case and Zafar Ali Shah case were part of history and could not be erased. “These judgements were responsible for the making and enabling those who have been referred to by Ali Ahmad Kurd,” Justice Minallah noted and said the judicial organ could not afford to bury its head in the sand and ignore its mistakes.

Other speakers spoke at length about the plight of women, urging to ensure equal access to education, opportunity and justice for them in Pakistan.

Justice Qazi Faez Isa, Justice Ameer Muhammad Bhatti, Chief Justice Lahore High Court, Ahsan Bhoon, President Supreme Court Bar Association, Androulla Kaminara, Ambassador of the European Union to Pakistan, Wouter Plomp, Ambassador of Netherland, Wendy Gilmour, Canadian High Commissioner to Pakistan, Dr Phillip Deichmann, Deputy of Ambassador of Germany to Pakistan, Christian Turner, Secretary General of Amnesty International, and Knut Ostby, president representative of UNDP Pakistan also spoke on the occasion.

Presence of over 100 female lawyers, especially from Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was a prominent feature of the conference.

Sulema Jahangir, daughter of late Asma Jahangir, said the objective of the conference is to discuss issues impacting the rule of law in Pakistan and the South Asia region.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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