Ex-envoys regret delay in judges’ restoration

Ex-envoys regret delay in judges’ restoration
The News, May 18, 2008
By Mariana Baabar

ISLAMABAD: Twenty-six former ambassadors and three former foreign secretaries expressed their regret in a statement sent to ‘The News’ here on Saturday over the unwarranted delay in the restoration of the illegally deposed judges of the superior judiciary.

The former envoys and foreign secretaries, appearing to have lost patience with the PPP government taking one step forward and four steps back, hit out hard at Islamabad, saying that it was regrettable that even six weeks after the formation of the federal government, it has failed to fulfil the mandate given to it by the electorate and honour the commitment made in the Murree Declaration. They have rejected any linkage between the restoration of the judges and constitutional amendments to reform the judiciary.

“We, the former ambassadors of Pakistan deplore the unwarranted delay in the restoration of the illegally deposed judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts to the positions they held before the steps taken on 3 November 2007 by the then chief of the army staff in violation of the Constitution and his oath of office,” the twenty six former ambassadors said.

Amongst those with strong words of condemnation for the government are former Secretary General at the Foreign Office, M Akram Zaki, former foreign secretaries Shamshad Ahmed, Riaz H Khokhar and Sher Afgan Khan, former Special Secretary.

These former ambassadors are Dr S M Koreshi, Dr Maqbool Bhatty, Najmul Saqib Khan, Gul Haneef, Touqir Hussain, KK Ghori, S Azmat Hassan, Javid Husain, Amin Jan Naim, Mushtaq A Mehr, Afzal Akbar Khan, Asif Ezdi, S Shafqat Kakakhel, Mazhar Qayyum, S Iftikhar Murshed, Saleem Nawaz Khan Gandapur, Iqbal Ahmad Khan, Aslam Rizvi, Kamran Niaz, Javed Hafiz, Rashed Saleem Khan and Nazar Abbas.

The ambassadors echoing what every Pakistani is saying these days add that the nation gave a clear verdict in the election held on 18 February against the Musharraf dictatorship and the unconstitutional steps taken by him on 3 November.

“On 9th March, PPP and PML-N, the two largest parties in the newly elected National Assembly, committed themselves in the Murree Declaration to restoring the judges to the position existing on 2 November through a Parliamentary resolution within 30 days after the formation of the federal government,” say the ambassadors.

As declared by the Supreme Court immediately after the declaration of “emergency”, the PCO was without any constitutional or legal validity. The dismissal of the judges under the PCO was, therefore, null and void and no constitutional amendment or other legislative act is required to restore them to the positions they held immediately before the 3 November action.

“We call upon the federal government to take immediately the necessary executive and administrative action in order to enable the deposed judges to return to their posts and resume their functions from which they are being illegally restrained”, say the ambassadors.

The appointments made to the Supreme Court and High Courts after 3 November are not in conformity with the Constitution. These appointments are also against the Charter of Democracy signed by former Prime Ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif on 15th May 2006.

The proposal to validate these appointments is incompatible with the principle of an independent judiciary and is unacceptable.

“We express our deep esteem for the deposed judges who have upheld the supremacy of the Constitution and the independence of the judiciary and have rejected pressure, intimidation and inducements from different quarters to make them abandon their principled stand. We extend to them our resolute solidarity and assure them that the sacrifices made by them are deeply appreciated by the nation”, add the former diplomats.

The ambassadors also expressed their solidarity with the lawyers and the independent media as well as other sections of the civil society in their struggle for the restoration of the judges.

They say that an independent judiciary is a vital pillar of democracy and an indispensable prerequisite for the supremacy of law. They maintain that the society based on the fundamental values of freedom and liberty and political stability without which the objectives of social justice, public welfare and economic development as well as national security cannot be achieved.

“We are, therefore, firmly resolved; at this important juncture in the nation’s struggle for democracy, civilian supremacy and constitutional rule; to stand behind the civil society in this common cause,” say the ambassadors.

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