Pakistan’s apex judge reminds prime minister his federal cabinet granted Nawaz Sharif permission to seek medical treatment abroad
Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa on Wednesday hit back at Prime Minister Imran Khan’s criticism of the judiciary, saying the legal fraternity acts in accordance with the law.
Addressing a ceremony to launch a new mobile app and website at the Supreme Court, the apex judge said the federal government had decided to allow former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to go abroad for medical treatment. “The Lahore High Court only settled the modalities,” he said in an obvious reference to Khan’s Nov. 18 speech, in which the prime minister had urged Justice Khosa to restore the public’s trust in Pakistan’s judicial system.
Khosa said the prime minister should avoid making statements calling into question the judiciary’s impartiality and authority. “The prime minister is the elected chief executive. We respect his position but no one should taunt us about powerful people,” he said, adding that the apex court had, since 2009, convicted two prime ministers and was set to deliver a verdict in the case of former Army chief Pervez Musharraf. He also said that while the judges were not perfect, they were working very hard to resolve a massive backlog of cases.
Justice Khosa said that just because certain individuals received greater media attention, did not mean the judiciary treated everyone else unfairly. “To say there is some imbalance [in how powerful and weak are treated by judges] … should be reconsidered,” he said.
“A total of 3,100 judges handled 3.6 million cases last year and disposed of criminal cases pending for 25 years despite limited available resources,” he said. He, however, welcomed P.M. Khan’s offer to provide extra resources to the judiciary, saying such measures would certainly help improve the court’s functioning.
On Monday, P.M. Khan had told a gathering at Havelian that the government accepted the court’s decision to allow Sharif to go abroad for medical treatment—a marked contrast from last week when the government had said it was granting ‘a one-time permission’ for Sharif to leave the country on humanitarian grounds.