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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Attorney General claims no ‘ any interference’ in Judiciary from Security Establishment

"To my knowledge, no representative of any security agency has directly contacted, or has the capacity to contact, any member of the judiciary."

In a rare address to the press on Tuesday, Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan rebuffed assertions of governmental or institutional intervention in judicial affairs. Awan’s statement coincided with the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) commencement of hearings on two contempt petitions regarding the social media defamation of Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani and the unauthorized disclosure of Justice Babar Sattar’s personal information.

Awan emphasized the necessity of providing clarification, given the portrayal of the IHC judges’ correspondence as indicative of escalating tensions between the executive and judicial branches. He stated that requests were made for surveillance-related discussions to be held confidentially, safeguarding the operational integrity of security and intelligence agencies, and that these requests were duly conveyed to relevant authorities. Awan clarified the role of the AGP’s office and the Additional Attorney General (AAG), describing them as facilitators of communication rather than conduits for interference.

Categorically denying any governmental or institutional meddling in judicial affairs, Awan asserted, “To my knowledge, no representative of any security agency has directly contacted, or has the capacity to contact, any member of the judiciary.” He underscored that any communication occurred through official channels to prevent sensitive information from being exposed publicly.

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Earlier in March, six IHC judges petitioned the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) over alleged executive intrusion, including by intelligence agencies, in judicial matters. The judges—Mohsin Akhtar Kiyani, Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri, Babar Sattar, Sardar Ejaz Ishaq Khan, Arbab Muhammad Tahir, and Saman Rafat Imtiaz—urged the SJC, under Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa, to address concerns regarding intelligence agency interference, which they claimed compromised judicial independence.

They requested a judicial inquiry into potential executive policies aimed at undermining the judiciary and called for a convention to address intelligence agency meddling and intimidation tactics against judges, threatening judicial autonomy.