New Supreme Court bar president supports judiciary in Human Rights Watch row
By: Ahmad Noorani
ISLAMABAD: Top office bearers of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) have rejected the baseless campaign of the Human Rights Watch (HRW) against Pakistan’s judiciary.
While commenting on the recent HRW statement, the newly elected SCBA president Asrar-ul-Haq Mian said that Pakistan’s judiciary has been penning down judgments against corruption and malpractices and those people who are being affected by these verdicts will certainly attack the judiciary.
Asrar-ul-Haq Mian was the candidate of Asma Jahangir group and was elected as the president of SC bar association on October 31, 2012. Asrar told The News on Friday there has been continuous criticism of the judiciary while the judiciary had always acted with patience and never tried to be hard on criticism.
The SCBA president said that vulgar and abusive language could never be tolerated but even despite some instances of this nature, Pakistan’s superior judiciary continued to function with tolerance and patience.
“The judiciary is working with great patience. Most of the judgements of the present judiciary are against corruption and malpractices and it is a very clear fact,” Asrar-ul-Haq said adding: “Now those who are affected by these judgments will criticise and obviously they will criticise in harsh words.
“Most of the steps taken by the judiciary should have been taken by the government,” Asrar continued adding: “If the government is unable to do these things, some other state institution has to come forward and provide relief to the people.”
The newly elected president of SCBA said that the judgements of the present judiciary are even liked and supported by the political leadership. “Though it doesn’t matter whether they like it or not,” Asrar added.
“I believe that the judiciary is functioning calmly and it doesn’t want to be hard”. “There has been continuous criticism on judiciary and it never issued any restraining order against this criticism except after some abusive programmes. The judiciary has normally tried to act cool and calm,” Asrar said adding: “Abusive language couldn’t be allowed but judiciary wants that issues could be settled calmly and with patience.”
Javed Iqbal Raja, the newly elected general secretary of SCBA, while talking to The News said that criticism always brings betterment and reforms in the system and that no institution including judiciary is immune to criticism.
He said that there has been continuous criticism on judiciary in Pakistan and he does not remember any restraining order from the superior judiciary against the media except the present orders by Islamabad High Court (IHC) and the Lahore High Court (LHC).
He said he knows that abusive and extremely offensive language was used in some programmes and this could not be allowed against any individual or institution what to talk of judiciary.
Javed Raja said in categorical words that he was asked about criticism on the judiciary by some Human Rights Watch (HRW) press release and he had simply said that criticism always brought betterment in a system and that he had never taken side with any organisation or its position.
Raja said he did not remember the judiciary passing any restraining order except the recent ones by IHC and LHC after abusive programmes and that abusive language could not be allowed against anyone in any case. He said that criticism is a must for moving forward and to improve a system.
The News had reported on November 28 that the HRW statement was factually incorrect and had asked HRW and its Asia director Brad Adams to conduct an independent inquiry on the following questions in order to save the credibility of his organisation:
i) Whether there was really no criticism on judiciary in electronic media talk shows and print media articles in Pakistan during last six months or a year.
ii) Whether superior judiciary had ever passed any restraining order except when some abusive and vulgar progammes and press conferences were aired by certain channels and whether such abusive language could be allowed in any developed political system.
There has been no response from HRW so far which is badly damaging the image of an international human rights organisation which in fact was badly shaken in February this year when Pakistan chapter of this organisation had participated in an Anti-Pakistan hearing of a US House committee which had “Balkanisation of Pakistan” on its agenda.
Media reports and documentary evidence establish that HRW and its Pakistan director were in the know that Balkanisation of Pakistan is on the agenda of the US House committee. However, they became part of such a big move against Pakistan and validated it but later defended themselves saying they did not take any position on the question of Balkanisation of Pakistan.