Home Latest News Supreme Court Hits Back at British Envoy’s Criticism of Pakistan’s Elections

Supreme Court Hits Back at British Envoy’s Criticism of Pakistan’s Elections

Terming criticism ‘unjustified,’ letter penned by registrar urges U.K. to examine and rectify its own past mistakes in pursuit of ‘open societies’

by Staff Report

Supreme Court of Pakistan

The Supreme Court of Pakistan has pushed back at British High Commissioner to Pakistan Jane Marriot’s recent criticism of the Feb. 8 general elections, urging the U.K. to examine its own past mistakes and take steps to ensure they are not repeated.

Addressing the Asma Jahangir Conference last month, Marriot had quoted British Foreign Secretary David Cameron’s concerns about Pakistan’s general elections, specifically pointing to parties—i.e. the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)—being barred from contesting elections under their ‘bat’ symbol and restrictions on participation for “some political leaders.” She had urged Pakistan’s government, civil society, and global stakeholders to work to nurture an “open society” and “vibrant democracy” to boost transparency in the country.

Responding to the criticism of court rulings in the speech, the apex court’s registrar has penned a letter to the envoy terming her comments on the PTI’s electoral symbol “unjustified.” Referring to the Elections Act, 2017, it notes the legislation stipulates that any party that does not hold intra-party elections is ineligible for an election symbol. “A political party (which had itself voted in this law) did not hold the mandated intra-party elections,” it said, referring to the PTI without directly naming it.

The letter notes that incumbent Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa had permitted the live broadcast of cases of public importance for the first time in Pakistan’s history, allowing the public to view proceedings in their entirety and providing transparency on how decisions are reached. “The decision regarding intra-party elections and party symbols was one of many to be broadcast live as such,” it added.

“It was gratifying that your Excellency had repeatedly stressed the importance of ‘open societies’ which you stated are necessary for vibrant democracies. You will be pleased to learn that the Supreme Court has recognized the right to information and vigorously applied it to itself… ” it said. “Persisting in the violent undemocratic mistakes of the past condemns present and future generations, and perpetuates cycles of violence. Let us embrace truth, which sets us free,” it added.

Recalling past “mistakes” of the U.K. that remain unaddressed, the letter questions the overthrow of Iran’s Mohammad Mossadegh in 1953 “to capture Iranian oil,” noting this cover-up has persisted over seven decades. “Will this not prove therapeutic for the perpetrator and the victim? Will it not engender trust, possibly friendship, and peace?” it questioned.

The letter also noted Britain’s 1917 intent to “establish a settler-colonial state”—a reference to Israel—noting the country had not bothered to seek any input from the people residing in the region. “The British government, and not Parliament, unilaterally decided it. The Balfour Declaration became the foundation on which an ethnic state was established. Those who had always lived there were excluded from this ethnic state; contained in ghettos, humiliated, deprived, brutalized, maimed and killed,” it added.

“Let us step back from the precipice of settler-ethnic superiority. Deaths of thousands of children and many thousands more innocents may unjustifiably come to define a people, which would be an abomination. Let us all stand up and be counted for equality, peace and humanity,” read the letter, calling for an honest acknowledgement of past mistakes in the spirit of openness, “advocated by your Excellency.” In this same regard, it added, “the unholy concept of ethnic superiority, and its concomitant humanity—an inferior humanity” should be jettisoned.

“The Supreme Court of Pakistan has acknowledged the mistakes made in its past, addressed them in detail, and taken steps to ensure that they are not repeated. Since the Government of His Majesty King Charles III has stressed the need for open societies and democracy, and offered criticism on the decisions of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, reciprocity would presumably be acceptable,” it said, adding the letter was penned on the instructions of the CJP.

Copies of the letter were also sent to Lord Robert John Reed, president of the Supreme Court of the U.K.; and Baroness Sue Lascelles Carr, Lady Chief Justice of England and Wales. The letter is dated May 3, 2024 but was only made public on May 29.

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