Deposed chief justice confident of success, defiant
Justice Iftikhar tells ‘The News’ he will come back
By Ansar Abbasi: The News, November 5, 2007
ISLAMABAD: Deposed Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who was the prime victim of Saturday’s provisional constitutional order (PCO), is confident that he would stage a comeback and has reiterated that the present set-up is illegal and all the superior judiciary’s latest appointments have no validity.
Talking to The News on telephone here on Sunday night, Justice Iftikhar said that the seven-member bench of the apex court headed by him, which had stayed the PCO and had also restrained the judges of the superior judiciary from taking oath under the PCO, had left the present set-up completely illegal.
He said that the judges appointed in all the provincial high courts and the Supreme Court on Saturday and Sunday had no legal backing. “Everything that is happening today is illegal, unconstitutional and against the orders of the Supreme Court,” Justice Iftikhar said, adding that he was sure that the pre-November 3 situation would revive.
Sounding confident and relaxed, the Chief Justice said that he had neither done anything wrong previously when he was suspended on March 9 nor had he done any such thing now. “God has blessed me with success last time and I am sure that He would again bless me and other respected judges, who had refused to take fresh oath under the PCO, in a similar manner this time too,” Justice Iftikhar said.
Without referring to General Musharraf’s last night speech that contained a “charge sheet” against the judiciary, the CJ said that it was wrong to conclude that the judiciary had been lenient towards terrorists. He disclosed that he had never been lenient towards the terrorists but it was not possible for the judges of the Supreme Court to start punishing people without the availability of evidence against them.
Justice Iftikhar disclosed that out of his serious concern over terrorism, he set up a committee under him that included judges from each provincial high court to expedite terrorism cases. Every month, he said, the said committee used to meet and review the cases of terrorism to ensure that there were no delays.
Referring to the Lal Masjid case, the chief justice reminded that the division bench of the Supreme Court that passed strict orders including the rebuilding of Jamia Hafsa, release of those arrested, payment of compensation etc comprised Justice Nawaz Abbasi and Justice Faqir Muhammad Khokhar, both of whom have now taken fresh oath under the PCO.
To a question, the CJ said that he is in high morale despite being confined by the government. He said that he has full faith in Allah Almighty and believes in the struggle for the rule of law and Constitution. “These are testing times for me from Allah and I will react to this situation in the same manner as is desired by the Creator of all,” the CJ said, revealing that although no one is allowed to visit him, a brother judge, who took oath under the PCO, visited him.
Justice Iftikhar showered praises on those brother judges, both in the apex court and the high courts, who refused to take oath under the PCO. In particular, he mentioned the name of Justice Javed Iqbal, who despite getting the opportunity to become the CJ of Pakistan on Saturday, refused to take oath under the PCO.
The CJ was determined to launch yet another phase of his struggle for an independent judiciary, rule of law and to uphold the Constitution. He was optimistic about the success of this struggle. He hoped that the media would also support the struggle for the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary because only these would secure the future of Pakistan and its people.
The chief justice said that he had no skeletons in the cupboard so he was not afraid of anyone. “My faith in Allah is my strength,” he said, adding that he is sure that those fighting for the rule of law would emerge victorious.
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