The judiciary of a country is supposed to play a silent and impartial role in doling out justice and withholding the supremacy of the Constitution and Law. Lamentably, in Pakistan the flow of the system always been opposite due to idiosyncratic and whimsical individuals running the organs that constitute the state’s system as personal business, taking decisions based on their benefits and what safe-guards their interests the most.
Our judiciary has always played the role of an integrant in steering the turn of future events. From hanging the first democratically elected Prime Minister of Pakistan to consolidating a dictator’s power and facilitating him in making a mockery of this country. Our judiciary has been bespattered by nepotism and corruption.
In the past, we have seen ‘bought-out’ and biased judges who never accepted their one-sidedness but strangely, today we see judges who feel no inhibition or hold in declaring their support for political parties. The perfect example that assists the argument above is the Chief Justice of Lahore High Court, Justice Khawaja Sharif. Khawaja was one of the many hailed and glorified heroes who stood up for the cause of a (supposedly) independent judiciary. Judges are known to speak through their judgments and maintain a low-profile but he seems to have a special fondness for friendships, politics and the light of the media.
Khawaja Sharif recently had the audacity to openly admit his 4-decade long and cherished friendship with Nawaz and Shahbaz Sharif, perhaps trying to orchestrate the great degree of virtue that he thinks to possess, that despite this friendship he has not let the process of justice be affected by it. One is left befuddled and bewildered after hearing this declaration keeping in view the actions of Justice Sharif. Not only did the LHC dismiss petitions seeking the disqualification of Nawaz and Shahbaz Sharif but Justice Khawaja asked the PPP to quit from the coalition in Punjab if it has any differences with Rana Maqbool of PML-N.
While one appreciates his eye on political affairs, it is requested that he keeps his opinions to himself for one muses what position does he have to utter such a thing, a PML-N spokesman? Their judicial representative or a minister of the Punjab Government? What right or authority does a member of the Judiciary have to meddle in political affairs?
This was not a surprise to the Government, who had already been made au fait with Sharif’s evident love for the PML-N leaders. At one address to the Bar, he had told lawyers to approach Zulfiqar Khosa instead of him in any hour of need or problem, for he was his dear friend. Along with this, Khawaja Sharif has not spared the pages of his Safar-Nama known as ‘Shakh-e-Nazik Key Aashianey’, in flattering the Sharif brothers stating that after Allah, Shahbaz Sharif has favored him.
Khawaja also confesses about his close relations with CM Punjab Mian Shahbaz Sharif writing that during a visit to London in 2006 he dined with him and he had gifted his sons. One should not forget that Khawaja Sharif was already a Justice at the time he wrote his book.
How and why did the LHC dismiss the petitions seeking the disqualification of the Sharif brothers? After all, if they can hear cases against Government officials and summon them, then why not opposition leaders? How could it be pre-determined that the two brothers can not be disqualified without hearing the case?
While the media busies itself in denunciation of the Government, accusing it of trying to wage a war against institutions, little is shown and debated of Khawaja Sharif’s addresses and statements from telling the Government to stop pointing a finger at ‘Takhat-e-Lahore’ to ordering lawyers to ‘hold their swords in preparation for a war’, which are nothing more than an open war of words or an invitation to the Government for a conflict that he seems eager to begin.
It was the responsibility of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to take notice of the behavior of Chief Justice LHC Khawaja Sharif and his statements that are a stumbling block in the assurance of an independent judiciary that is truly unprejudiced and non-partisan.
It sounds like an oxymoron to one, that a man who feels no restrain or scruples in declaring and maintaining his relationship with the leaders of a political party announces that he is part of the torch-bearers of an independent judiciary. It is the moral responsibility of any judge with any slight trace of political links in his background, leave alone treasured ‘friendships’ with opposition leaders to immediately resign from his post.. This selective accountability can not be crowned justice in any sense. Khawaja Sharif should have had the qualms to step down from the position of the Chief Justice of LHC if he had relations with a political party.
If he is so interested in speaking for the PML-N, he should join the party rather than mixing politics and dirtying the system that is made to ensure justice. Until the double standards that the Judiciary retains are not abandoned, the claims of it being free, fair and independent will be nothing more than a sham and a mere myth.
– Hafsa Khawaja