Pakistan’s top judge on Saturday said that the Supreme Court will not retreat even an inch from the Constitution in its dispensation of justice.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, speaking to a gathering of lawyers at the Karachi Bar, said that the judiciary was taking all decisions in accordance with the Constitution of Pakistan.
The chief justice said that the apex court’s order of July 31, 2012 had put an end to unconstitutional steps that were being taken.
Justice Iftikhar was referring to a July court order on the worsening law and order situation in restive Balochistan province.
The oil and gas rich province is rife with ethnic tensions, sectarian violence and also has a separatist insurgent movement ongoing.
“Enforced disappearances, target killings, kidnapping for ransom and sectarian related killings have become order of the day,” the court had noted in its order July 31 order. The order fixed responsibility on the federal as well as the provincial governments “for the enforcement of the Constitution in Balochistan.”
A composite statement was submitted on behalf of the federal as well as Balochistan governments assuring the court that steps would be taken to enforce Article 9 (security of life and property) of the Constitution in the province, while the chief of the Frontier Corps (FC), the paramilitary force deployed in the province and accused of rights’ abuses by Baloch nationalist leaders, was also asked to sign the document.
The chief justice’s comments come after former Balochistan chief minister and Balochistan National Party president Sardar Akhtar Jan Mengal, returning to the country after three years of self-imposed exile in London, described enforced disappearances as the real cause of the current unrest in the province.
The Baloch leader, in a six-point charter presented in the SC on Thursday, called for an immediate end to military operations in Balochistan, the recovery and fair trial of all ‘missing persons’, the abolishment of “proxy death squads”, and an end to interference from intelligence agencies in the freedom and functioning of political parties in the province.
Reference to lawyers’ movement
Speaking to the lawyers on Saturday, Chief Justice Iftikhar also said that lawyers were deeply affected by the events of May 12 and April 9.
The chief justice was referring to the mayhem in Karachi on May 12, 2007 when at least 48 people were shot dead and dozens of vehicles set ablaze as the chief justice was detained at the airport and city life was paralysed.
In another incident the same year on April 9, several lawyers were killed and their chambers burnt by the police during the lawyers’ movement against the chief justice’s suspension by former president Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf.
The chief justice added that a strong Bar further boosts the strength of a country’s judiciary.