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It now appears to be the government versus the judiciary than the government versus the opposition or Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

The top components of the coalition government—Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)—have suddenly stepped up criticism of judiciary in recent days and weeks. For example, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has accused the higher judiciary of adopting double standard.

“I am very sorry to say that the way our apex court is going with double standards, it is so difficult for parties like us to defend its actions,” Bilawal has been quoted as saying at a seminar while marking the golden jubilee celebrations of the 1973 constitution. What is interesting to note that Maryam Nawaz, the senior vice president of PML-N, has already intensified her verbal attacks on the judiciary as she believes that judges or certain judges are behind her father’s and her own woes.

Both Bilawal and Maryam have demanded the accountability of judges. Insofar as an embittered Maryam’s approach to judiciary is concerned, it appears to be quite understandable. Bilawal seems to have gone too far as he wants to bring judges of higher courts under the purview of National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

The question is what harm has the ‘controversial’ judiciary inflicted on Bilawal or his father or the party to attract such censure from them? Not only has PPP been ruling for so many years the Sindh province without let or hindrance, Bilawal is country’s foreign minister since last year. Little does the PPP chief realise that his remarks clearly constitute an attempt aimed at curtailing the independence of judiciary. It is needless to say that judicial independence is always central to democracy.

Ahmed Rashid (Karachi)

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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