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P.M. Seeks Action Against Anti-Judiciary Social Media Campaign

by Newsweek Pakistan
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File photo. Aamir Qureshi—AFP

In statement, Prime Minister’s Office says FIA has been directed to take immediate action against people response

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday took notice of a social media campaign criticizing Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmad, as well as other senior judges, after the Supreme Court verbally directed the government to remove the Special Assistant to the P.M. on Health, Dr. Zafar Mirza, from his post.

A statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office said that Khan had directed the Federal Investigation Agency to probe the matter, take immediate action against the culprits, and present a report on the matter.

“Campaigns and offensive words against the chief justice and the judiciary will not be tolerated,” read the statement, citing the prime minister. “Such elements should be given immediate and strict punishment,” he added.

The prime minister ordered the investigation after a meeting with Attorney General Khalid Javed Khan. The top law official informed the prime minister that the smear campaign could result in dangerous consequences and prompt a new conflict between the executive and the judiciary.

Separately, local media reported that the prime minister had reprimanded Mirza over his failure to convince the Supreme Court about the effectiveness of the federal government’s efforts to combat coronavirus.

During an appearance before the apex court last week, Mirza briefed judges about the government’s strategy to curb the spread of COVID-19. The de facto health minister told the judges they were not following social distancing measures, raising their ire, and then was unable to respond to various queries about the health ministry’s steps to control the outbreak.

According to daily Dawn, the prime minister said Mirza was duty-bound to present the government’s achievements in the fight against coronavirus in an “effective” and “humble” manner.

Earlier this week, while hearing a suo motu case on the measures taken by the government to control the coronavirus epidemic in Pakistan, the chief justice had slammed the center for failing to stem the spread of the virus. “There is an army of ministers and advisers in place but no work is being done,” he had said, adding that the advisers were comprised of “corrupt people.” He had also ordered the government to remove Dr. Mirza from his post, but backed down from the directive at the urging of the attorney general, who said removing the key health official would be “dangerous” at this point.

The online campaign against judges started shortly after Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed’s remarks became public, with most observers saying it was instigated by supporters of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.

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