Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) Senior Vice-President Maryam Nawaz, who is also the party’s chief organizer, on Thursday took the judiciary to task, urging it to “assess” its “basic responsibility” in delivering justice without bias or favor.
“You sat down to evaluate the election commission’s responsibility. Definitely examine it. But have you ever assessed your own basic responsibility?” she asked during a workers’ convention in Sargodha that convened a few hours after the Supreme Court began suo motu proceedings into determining the authority that should announce a date for polls in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa following the dissolution of the provincial assemblies in mid-January.
The nine-member larger bench, led by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial, was formed two days after President Arif Alvi fixed April 9 as the date for elections in Punjab and KP to condemnations from the government and constitutional experts, who said he lacked the mandate to do so. The formation of the bench has already triggered controversy, with critics questioning the inclusion of Justices Ijazul Ahsan and Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, who had sent a note to the CJP seeking a suo motu notice into the case. Naqvi is also facing a reference in the Supreme Judicial Council following the release of an audio recording that allegedly features him discussing a case with former Punjab chief minister Parvez Elahi.
“Does the dam waley baba [former chief justice Saqib Nisar] know where Pakistan stands today? Do Baba Rehmat [another reference to Nisar] and [ex-CJP Asif Saeed] Khosa sahib know where the country stands today?” she questioned, referring to the Panama Papers case that had been argued before a bench led by Khosa and the excessive “judicial activism” displayed during Nisar’s tenure.
Alleging that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s rise to power had been facilitated by people in the armed forces and judiciary, the PMLN leader played a video showing the photographs of five individuals that she said were to blame for Pakistan’s current crisis. “This cabal of five is responsible,” she said, pointing to images of Nisar, Khosa, former spymaster Lt. Gen. (retd.) Faiz Hameed, and sitting SC judges Ahsan and Naqvi.
Claiming that Hameed had been their “leader,” she said: “Faiz Hameed wanted to become the [Army] chief. He needed a political face.” Unfortunately, she claimed, Hameed’s leftovers persisted in institutions despite his retirement. “Faiz Hameed does not love Imran Khan,” she said. “There is fear of the crimes they have committed in the last five years. He made billions of rupees and transferred them to the Gulf countries,” she alleged, further accusing Hameed of conspiring against Nawaz Sharif while he was prime minister to favor “watch-stealer” Khan.
Referring to PTI’s ongoing ‘Jail Bharo’ (fill jails) movement, Maryam claimed that this was the first such movement where police were looking to arrest people, who were avoiding detention. Alleging that only 60 to 70 people had been arrested in Lahore, a city of 15 million people, she said the same people demanding to be arrested on Wednesday were now seeking their release through courts.
Maintaining that Khan would soon be placed into “history’s dustbin,” she criticized his lack of leadership, pointing to his securing bail while urging his supporters to court arrest. She also mocked former Punjab chief minister Parvez Elahi for joining the PTI and criticized his son, Moonis Elahi.