News Analysis |
The Lahore High Court (LHC) has banned the airing of alleged “anti-judiciary speeches” made by the ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and other senior leaders.
A set of petitions was filed against the PML-N leadership for allegedly making anti-judiciary speeches since after the Panama papers verdict last year. A three-judge full bench, headed by Justice Syed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, and comprising Justice Atir Mahmood and Justice Chaudhry Masood Jahangir, is hearing the matter.
The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) has also been directed by the LHC to decide the complaints pending with it regarding the alleged contemptuous speeches within 15 days as well.
A verbal war against the judiciary is compromising the integrity of the judiciary. Institutions make repute after a long period of hard-work and unflinching commitment to their fundamental values e.g. justice and fair play.
Advocate Azhar Siddique who is representing Sharifs in the contempt case argued before the court that Article 19-A of the Constitution guarantees freedom of expression and the right to “fair criticism” to every citizen. But Justice Naqvi responded to him that “it can’t be that anyone out there goes about denouncing judicial matters and decisions in the name of ‘fair criticism’.”
Advocate Salman Akram Raja, the counsel for Pemra, argued that the PEMRA had already rejected an application against alleged anti-judiciary speeches on “technical grounds” using its authority and now the petitioners were raising unnecessary objections against the regulatory body’s authority. In response to this the bench observed that “should we not take away from this that [PEMRA] allowed airing of anti-judiciary speeches by rejecting the application?”
Read more: Has PTI and PML-N defamed politics?
PML-N’s anti-judiciary Campaign
The Supreme Court of Pakistan in its verdict in Panama Papers saga declared Nawaz Sharif ‘dishonest’who was unable to declare his assets according to the law. Since Nawaz lost all of his hopes to fight his battle at legal grounds, he and his daughter Maryam Safdar decided to run up an anti-judiciary campaign to establish a narrative against the judiciary and Pakistani establishment for toppling Nawaz’s government.
Several PML-N leaders made anti-judiciary speeches and alleged the apex court for conspiring against Sharifs. Apart from the federal and provincial ministers of the PML-N the Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has also been made respondent in the petitions. One of the senators of the PML-N Nehal Hashmi, who not only criticized the court but also threatened honorable judges and their families, was fined and imprisoned for one month.
The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) has also been directed by the LHC to decide the complaints pending with it regarding the alleged contemptuous speeches within 15 days as well.
As a matter of fact, PML-N’s anti-judiciary and anti-establishment campaign is not an emotional or uncalculated response to the verdict of the court it is rather a rational approach to target the apex court to use the ‘victim card’. Nawaz Sharif and PML-N are making efforts to blame both military and establishment who are allegedly working on “minus Nawaz formula” for alleged political instability in Pakistan.
Nawaz Sharif has also been making attempts to please western powers in order to seek external help for his political survival at home. He has made vain attempts to become the champion of democracy and a vocal proponent of pro-India foreign policy. But as a rule, democracy has certain values and ideals to be followed at the outset and rule of law, and independence of judiciary are the core tenets of a genuine representative democracy which Nawaz and his allies are conveniently ignoring at the moment.
Moreover, a verbal war against the judiciary is compromising the integrity of the judiciary. Institutions make repute after a long period of hard-work and unflinching commitment to their fundamental values e.g. justice and fair play. But an organized campaign against the judiciary along with the help of some media houses is not only comprising the integrity of the judiciary but it is also further polarizing Pakistani society.