With five days left for the reinstatement of sacked judges in Pakistan, there is growing cynicism among people here about the coalition government’s commitment to restore the judges.
Earlier this week, some top lawyers and jurists appointed to a committee, constituted by the government to look into the issue, quit saying “they found it unacceptable that judges who sided with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf be allowed to continue on their position”.
Justice (retd) Farkruddin Ebrahim dissociated himself from the legal committee, tasked to prepare proposals for the reinstatement of deposed judges. He said it was more interested in retaining judges inducted after November 3, 2007 than in the reinstatement of the deposed judges.
In a letter addressed to the head of the committee, Justice Ebrahim said: “In the first meeting, the committee discussed proposals for increasing the strength of the Supreme Court from 17 to 27 and retention of the judges inducted after Nov 3, 2007 among other matters.” He said he could not be a party to any formula to reward those judges who had taken oath under the Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) of November 3, 2007 and had acted in violation of the Supreme Court order of November 3, 2007.
Leading lawyer and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Aitezaz Ahsan also quit the committee on Tuesday citing the same reasons.
Law Minister Farooq Naik, however, claimed all is well. "Yes, there are disagreements, but we are making progress in the committee," said Naik on Wednesday. Naek said the modalities were being agreed upon. "We are committed to restore the chief justice," he added.
However, there are many who argue that there was a political understanding between President Musharraf and PPP chairman Asif Zardari that the judges would not be restored.