More Embarrassment In Store For Govt In Justice Isa Case
Muhammad Ziauddin analyses government’s many ‘blunders’ in the case pertaining to presidential reference against Supreme Court Justice Qazi Faez Isa and says that the government might ultimately have to withdraw the case because the odds are not in its favour.
Unbelievable! That is what you cannot resist exclaiming when you witness Federal Law Minister Faroogh Naseem and his former brother-in-arms Captain (Retd.) Anwar Mansur Khan, ex-Attorney General of Pakistan committing blunder after legal blunder while trying first to get a properly legal notification issued for an extension in the service of the incumbent Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Bajwa and; then next, while attempting to get Supreme Court Judge Qazi Faiz Isa indicted for allegedly owning benami property in the UK.
That the extension issue, contrary to logic and law, finally reached parliament and a due amendment was made in the Army Act to make the extension question of a COAS permanently settled in favor of the each of the succeeding incumbents raises the suspicion that the blunders of the duo in this case were not in fact genuine but deliberately invented to nudge the issue to Parliament as desired, it is assumed, by the GHQ.
That both, the law minister and the former AG were very close to the former military dictator General (Retd.) Pervez Musharraf with the former actually defending the retired general in the infamous treason case was perhaps the main reason for the two to readily agree to frame charges of possessing benami property against Justice Isa.
The two perhaps rightly thought they were doing a big favor to the ISI Chief, Lt Gen. Faiz by instituting a corruption case against Justice Isa who in his Faizabad case judgement had passed appropriately harsh rulings against Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency’s role in the Labaik’s disruptive sit-in bringing the twin-cities to a stand-still for weeks together.
In their keenness to oblige the ISI chief, they even went to the extent of allegedly hiring a foreign intelligence agency to investigate the properties of Justice Isa’s non-dependent family (wife and children) and gathered proof of what they thought to be the judge’s benami properties.
Under the law, the government or any of its minions, including the Asset Recovery Unit Chief, Akber Shahzad (which in any case is not backed by any law) did not have the right to investigate the alleged charges of corruption against higher judiciary.
So, what it is claimed that the former AG told the larger bench of 10 hearing the Justice Isa case on the fateful day and which was expunged by the bench in one voice was actually based on the ‘evidence’ gathered by the ARU.
An angry bench asked the ex-AG to put his complaint in writing or withdraw it in writing. This the Ex-AG did—he withdrew – at the next hearing and apologised to the bench and soon after submitted his resignation claiming that he has been asked by the Bar Council to do so.
‘No’, said Law Minister Naseem with the usual smirk painted on his face, “We forced him to resign”. This angered the Ex-AG who in one of the TV talk shows claimed that what he had charged the 10-bench members was in the know of both the law minister and the in-charge of ARU. Naseem hit back, out of panic claiming the former AG was telling lies.
But the very next day he went public apologising to the ex-AG for calling him a liar. In a round- about way the law minister’s public apology was conceding what the ex-AG was claiming – the government along with the President, the prime minister, the law minister and the ARU chief knew what he was accusing the 10-member bench.
The Bar Council has now asked the law minister to resign, accusing him of deliberately creating legal problems for the government. The PBC has also asked for contempt proceedings against the three – Law Minister, Ex-AG and ARU chief.
However, meanwhile, Justice Qazi Faiz Isa in a new petition to the SC has asked for contempt cases against the President, PM, law minister, ex-AG and Shehzad Akber. He has given some very valid arguments to back his petition.
And in a new development of far reaching consequence at least in the context of the Justice Isa case the new Attorney General Khalid Jawaid Khan has said he would not represent the government in this particular case referring to an element of conflict of interest as he had already commented on the case favoring Qazi Faiz Isa.
The way the situation is developing, it appears as if the government would soon be left with no option other than to withdraw its case against Justice Isa.
An interesting information tit-bid: Faroogh Naseem has not only defended Musharraf but also MQM chief Altaf Hussain in his hey days. He was a member of Altaf’s MQM and was elected to the Senate on MQM’s votes. Since he had defended Musharraf in the treason case, and had to leave it mid-way after taking up the cabinet slot, the verdict against his client by the special court did not go well with Faroogh and he has already said he would go into appeal against the verdict. But for that he would first have to resign his cabinet portfolio. Can he afford it?
The author is a senior journalist and editor.