Former chief justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Friday announced that he would launch his own political party on Dec 25, 2015, saying that he was in consultation with his friends over the subjects and would soon share the details with the media.
Addressing a press conference in his native city Quetta, Chaudhry welcomed the judgment of the enquiry commission on allegations of rigging in elections of 2013, stating that the report had not only vindicated him, it had also cleared the judiciary of the allegations of vote fraud.
A well-placed source however claimed that the new party was being designed to target Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) which had been formed with the slogans and objectives of provision of justice to the public at large.
“There is a group within the PTI which is silently working for gathering workers for the yet-to-be launched Justice Party,” the source claimed, adding that by the time the party, which is likely to be named Justice Party, would be launched it would have already roped in a large number of ‘disillusioned and demoralised’ PTI workers.
“Many desperate leaders in PTI are in touch with Iftikhar Chaudhry as Imran Khan could not deliver justice to the masses which he had promised while forming the PTI. This is why we are considering to name the new party as Justice Party,” the source said, adding that other than the PTI, some leaders of PPP, PML-N and other mainstream political parties were also onboard the plan.
“However, all decisions including the name of the new party would be taken with the consultation of all the close aides and supporters of the former top judge,” the source added.
Another source close to the former CJP said that some of the senior leaders of the lawyers’ movement would also support Chaudhry’s endeavour.
“Munir A Malik has a strong bond with the former CJP as he had played a key role in getting him appointed as attorney general of the country. Justice (r) Wajihuddin Ahmed also may join Chaudhry after developing a rift with Imran Khan over intra-party affairs. PTI leader Hamid Khan Advocate may also join hands with the former CJP,” the source claimed, adding that Sheikh Ahsan Advocate, another leading lawyers’ movement activist was already on board.
Political commentators view the announcement of a new political party as an ‘ambitious plan’ as most of the former colleagues and supporters of Iftikhar Chaudhry are not standing behind him. Moreover, they say that Chaudhry has been a controversial character and faced accusations by political leaders for pursuing political objectives during his days in office.
“None of the former presidents of SCBA including Aitzaz Ahsan, Ali Ahmed Kurd, Justice (r) Tariq Mehmood, Asma Jahangir, Kamran Murtaza, Akram Shaikh, Qazi Jamil, Qazi Anwar, Yasin Azad would join Iftikhar Chaudhry,” a leading lawyer told Pakistan Today seeking anonymity.
Justice (r) Tariq, a staunch supporter of Iftikhar Chaudhry during the lawyers’ movement, says that the former judge should not form a political party.
“I am an imprudent friend of Justice Chaudhry. I would advise him to stay out of politics,” he said.
Talking to Pakistan Today, the in-charge of PPP Media Cell, Senator Saeed Ghani welcomed the announcement, saying that it is the basic right of every citizen to take part in national politics.
However, the PPP leader said that the announcement has proved the stance of the PPP leadership that the intentions of the former CJP were political and he had especially targeted the PPP government during his term in office. “The cat is out of the bag now,” he said, taking a jibe at the former judge.
Syed Zafar Shah, a senior lawyer and a prominent leader of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) also welcomed the announcement.
“It’s a good step. There is a need for a new political party due to the autocratic attitude and mindset of the political leadership. The political workers who are desperate due to their leaders’ actions and attitudes may find a new opportunity in shape of Iftikhar Chaudhry,” he said.
Pakistan Today made repeated attempts to contact the PTI leadership for their comments on the issue but they remained unavailable.