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Friday, February 3, 2023
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Outspoken Farogh Naseem in troubled waters. Will PM Khan sack him?

Farogh Naseem is in the news yet again for the latest development in the Musharraf related cases. He has remained a lawyer of the former president. He is reported to have an alleged role in Justice Faez Isa’s reference too. Will PM Khan sack him?

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Barrister Dr. Muhammad Farogh Naseem, Federal Minister for Law, is once again in troubled waters. Dr. Naseem is said to be the most controversial minister in Prime Minister Imran Khan’s cabinet due to his political background, and his ‘reckless’ comments on several key issues. In the latest development, the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) has called upon Prime Minister Imran Khan to expel Dr. Naseem from the cabinet after former attorney general for Pakistan Anwar Mansoor Khan said Naseem was aware of his comments against judges.

Some analysts now expect that the law minister may not be able to defend his position this time. If this happens, Dr. Naseem may have to resign. Prominent political commentator Sabir Shakir believes that the law minister shall have to go home.

 

The press release appreciated the former attorney general to tender his resignation in line with the PBC’s demand. However, it said that his statement that the controversial remarks were in line with the government’s stance perturbed the PBC.

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“Divulging certain facts by him [Anwar Mansoor] while speaking to the media afterward, that his statement before the Supreme Court was in line with the stance of the Federal Government and the concerned person [Farogh Naseem] in the Government was fully aware of it, is alarming as it reflects nefarious designs of the government to bow down the judiciary,” read the press release.

The government on Thursday submitted a response to the Supreme Court regarding the statements made by the former attorney general in court earlier in the week, saying that the remarks by Khan were unauthorized and without the knowledge of the federal government.

The PBC said that it seemed as if Naseem was the “mastermind of the conspiracy against the judiciary” keeping in mind his “dubious past conduct” in filing of a reference against Justice Qazi Faez Isa, acting as former military dictator General (retd) Pervez Musharraf’s lead counsel and “his having all set to become counsel for the incumbent COAS in his case of extension in service”.

No judge can be stopped from his work on the basis of his judgments. This has been decided by the Supreme Court of Pakistan

The press released said that keeping in mind the minister’s past, it seems that he does not believe in democratic forces or continuity of the democratic process. The PBC called on a judicial commission to investigate Naseem.

“The Prime Minister of Pakistan is urged upon to immediately expel him from the Federal Cabinet in the larger national interest and continuity of the democratically elected government, lest it is too late,” read the statement.

“The judge is mentally unfit.”

The law minister passed some hard-hitting comments against Justice Waqar Seth who penned the special court’s verdict in high treason case against former military dictator Pervez Musharraf. “We direct the law enforcement agencies to strive their level best to apprehend the fugitive/convict and to ensure that the punishment is inflicted as per law and if found dead, his corpse be dragged to the D-Chowk, Islamabad, Pakistan and be hanged for 03 days,” wrote Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth.

While reacting to the judgement, Dr. Naseem said that “with due respect, this is an unprecedented, despicable and completely wrong observation by the judge”.

The law minister then spoke of Article 209 under which the attorney general had announced his intention for a trial against the judge.

He said that Article 209 comes into effect when there is misconduct due to “incompetence” or when there is “questionable mental capacity”. “In Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry’s time ‘incompetence’ was added to the SJC rules as grounds for misconduct,” said the minister.

“Keeping in view Justice Waqar Ahmed Seth’s observations, the federal government has decided to approach the Supreme Judicial Council and file a request stating that such a judge has no authority to be a judge of a high court or the Supreme Court of Pakistan. He is unfit.

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Terming the serving judge as mentally unfit invited criticism from legal quarters. Some legal experts even believed that the law minister passed comments without taking legal provisions into considerations. “No judge can be stopped from his work on the basis of his judgments. This has been decided by the Supreme Court of Pakistan,” said a lawyer.

“Incompetent minster”

Dr. Naseem had to face criticism after the government failed to issue an appropriate notification to ensure extension in service of the Army Chief. it is worth recalling that a bench headed by former Chief Justice of Pakistan, Asif Saeed Khosa, along with Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah heard the petition filed by Riaz Rahi. The court noted that the government was unable to comprehend some basic principles to draft an appropriate notification.

Senior defence experts say the whole confusion created due to the Supreme Court’s decision of suspending the notification of General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s extension has been created due to government’s incompetence.

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Former Secretary Defence Gen (R) Asif Yasin Malik believes the government’s incompetence is the sole reason of this controversy. “This is an insult to the office of the prime minister, not of army chief. The government isn’t aware of the procedures and cannot even remove the procedural mistakes. The government should have simply apologised from the apex court for these procedural errors. The court might have accepted their plea and asked the government to remove these mistakes. But now I believe things will further deteriorate after the Supreme Court’s initial verdict,” he commented.

All the criticism was directed to the ministry of law, and the man who was heading the same. Dr. Naseem had to issue clarifications on several occasions that the law itself was very complex which created unnecessary confusion.

It is yet to be seen whether the Prime Minister asks Dr. Naseem to tender his resignation this time or not.