Though the amended Protection of Pakistan Ordinance (PPO) 2014 is yet to become a law, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Lawyers Wing president has sought appointment of his ‘beloved’ 35 retired judges and lawyers to special courts, which are to be formed under the PPO.
Under the PPO, the executive would appoint the special court judges in consultation with the chief justice of the high court concerned. However, it seems that the PML-N government has planned to appoint its handpicked lawyers and retired judges.
PML-N Lawyers Wing President Naseer Ahmad Bhutta wrote a letter on March 24 to Law Secretary Zafarullah Khan, recommending 35 names of his party loyalists to be appointed as the special court judges. Moreover, Bhutta also recommended the name of Raja Javed Iqbal for the slot of prosecutor general of the special courts.
Zafarullah Khan is also a loyalist of the Sharifs and he was appointed as the law secretary by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. This is not the first effort by the PML-N leadership to get its men appointed to the judiciary. Since the 1998 Supreme Court attack, the PML-N leadership has been trying to influence the judiciary.
Some analysts accused former chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and his aides of being biased and for providing relief to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shahbaz Sharif. The PPP leadership in particular has been crying foul against the judges, accusing them of being ‘selective’ in terms of justice.
The names on the list are: Tahir Gondal, SM Tareef, Ijaz Mehmood Chaudhry, Sheikh Abdul Rehman, Nadeem Mehmood Mian, Mukarram Khan, Khalid Chaudhry, Waqar Ahmad Raees, Fida Hussain Babar Gillani, Abid Hussain Bhutta, Abbas Iqbal Mian, Amir Farooq Neil, Muhammad Khalid Mohal, Zahoor Nasir, Bashir Mirza, Mian Muhammad Nawaz and Roshan Ara.
From Sindh, Ashfaque Ahmed Tagar (Karachi), Nisar Ahmed G Abro (Larkana), Waqar Shah (Karachi), Munsaf Jan (Karachi), Adil Awan (Karachi), Sagheer Khan (Karachi), Latif Sheikh (Karachi), Jamshaid Faiz (Sukkur), Aurenzeb Talpur (Karachi), Khalid Khan Dhoon (Karachi) and Aziz Jamali (Karachi) have been recommended.
From Balochistan, Ahmad Haleemi (Quetta), Ismael Baloch, Najeebullah, Abdul Qayyum Lehri (Quetta) and Shah Jehan Achakzai (Quetta) have been recommended.
Interestingly, the PML-N lawyers forum only recommended two names from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Faridullah Kundi (Peshawar) and Arshad Hussain (Peshawar).
When contacted, PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar expressed his concerns over the recommendations sent by the PML-N lawyers’ forum, saying that getting their men accommodated in the special courts is tantamount to nepotism.
“In my view, under the amended PPO, the executive would have the powers to appoint retired judges and lawyers with 10-year experience. However, recommending people from lawyers forum of the ruling party may tantamount to nepotism. But the PPO itself is a great threat for the human rights,” he said and added that this was the reason that the opposition parties wanted to oppose the PPO which according to him was a ‘draconian law’.
However, lawyer SM Zafar said that the government may recommend anyone to be appointed as a judge of the special court but the judiciary would have a final say in these appointments.
“It would not be a piece of cake for the PML-N leadership to get their blue-eyed boys appointed in the special courts. In my view, the chief justice of the high courts concerned would have to make sure that right man for right job is chosen,” he maintained.