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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

COMMENT: Constitutional chameleons —Ijaz Hussain

Ijaz Hussain examines the relationship between words (that one hears TODAY) and deeds of BB and NS. It is worth recalling that when in powers their deeds were different than their hoarse cries and platitudes of today.

First, we must examine the track record of these two leaders with respect to the judiciary during their tenures as Pakistan’s prime ministers. As far as Bhutto is concerned, her behaviour during her second term appeared as if she never believed in the independence of the judiciary. During the 1993 general elections, the PPP manifesto envisaged judicial reforms by laying down objective criteria for the appointment of judges. One would have thought that she was motivated by a zeal for reform because of the partisan role that the judiciary had played in sending her father to the gallows. However, this manifesto turned out to be no more than an election gimmick because when it came to implementation, she balked and instead appointed PPP sympathizers instead of independent-minded judges.


If Bhutto’s treatment of the judiciary was shameful, then that of Nawaz Sharif was even worse. Consider the following. In August 1997, the CJP recommended five high court judges for elevation to the SC. Under the Judges’ Judgement, the CJP’s recommendations were binding on the executive and in case the latter disagreed, it could record reasons for it that rendered the matter justiciable. Sharif was not agreeable to the CJP’s recommendations because he considered two of the recommendees hostile to his government. His government consequently rejected the recommendations. However, it failed to furnish any reason in writing for doing so. To defeat the recommendations, the Sharif government notified a reduction in the number of the SC judges from seventeen to twelve. However, it failed to achieve its objective because President Leghari decided to side with the CJP rather than with Sharif.

To read the rest click on the link below:\12\05\story_5-12-2007_pg3_2


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