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Three ‘Other’ Verdicts

by Newsweek Pakistan

Aamir Qureshi—AFP

Hints of refits within the judiciary over its current activist nature

Many thought Nawaz Sharif was wrongly dismissed as prime minister. Not only did his party think that he had been done in by a biased Supreme Court, even his prime foe Imran Khan said on TV that the verdict of the court against Sharif was a “weak verdict.” Then well-reputed Justice Faez Isa of the Supreme Court noted this “weakness” in a remark that he made during case proceedings, saying the Panama verdict against Sharif actually came on the basis of an unrelated “iqama,” where he forgot to receive a salary from a U.A.E.-based company owned by his son.

Justice Dost Muhammad Khan, about to retire from the Supreme Court, declined to attend the full-court “reference” where tributes are paid to the retiree, who then gives his formal opinion of the court he has served. He also declined to attend a reception hosted by the Chief Justice, normally held after the reference. He retired on March 19 without attending the reception either from the Supreme Court Bar Association or the Pakistan Bar Council. He said the reason for not attending was personal.

Justice Khan was a great advocate of accountability of the judges together with the military generals. He had recently urged that “the political parties should resolve their disputes in Parliament instead of taking them to the courts.” It is still a mystery why he declined the reference/reception of the Chief Justice before he quit, if not to dissociate himself from the current mood of the court. He was indeed the classic judge who kept a low profile, seldom indulged in sensational obiter dicta, abstained from “political” remarks and cared a lot for the “disappeared” persons of Pakistan. His last message may have come as an implied rejection of the current “activism” of the judiciary.

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