CJ Minallah asks
political parties to
avoid unnecessary
criticism against judiciary

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ISLAMABAD: Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Athar Minallah on Friday advised political parties to refrain from unnecessarily criticising the judiciary and seeking accountability of state institutions under the pressure of political narrative and warned that it would ultimately lead to chaos in the country.

CJ-IHC Justice Athar Minallah

The IHC chief justice made the observation during the hearing of a petition filed by former prime minister Imran Khan’s close aide Shahbaz Gill seeking protective bail in a case relating to the Masjid-i-Nabwi incident. He extended the restraining order issued against the possible arrest of Mr Gill till May 9 — the next date of hearing.

Justice Minallah observed that the movement for restoration of judiciary was not for the reinstatement of judges only, but to ensure rule of law in every institution. He recalled that almost all the political parties had participated in that movement and they must answer whether or not the objectives of supremacy of the Constitution, rule of law and sanctity of institutions had been achieved.

Justice Minallah said all the political parties were respectable as they formed public opinion and influenced the people at large. He observed that institutions are accountable under the law, but seeking accountability under the pressure of political narrative was unwarranted.

Justice Minallah said the political parties welcomed the decisions that went in their favour but they started criticising the judiciary for every unfavorable decision. “If there is no rule of law, supremacy of the Constitution and every party wants institutions to work in accordance with their political narrative, there will be a chaos everywhere,” he observed.

During the course of hearing, Ahmed Pansota, the counsel for Shahbaz Gill, insisted that first information reports (FIRs) against the PTI leadership, including his client, had been registered at the behest of the federal government.

He argued that sections of the blasphemy law could be invoked under the specific directive of the federal or provincial governments and an authorised officer could registered the FIRs after a thorough investigation.

Shahbaz Gill appeared in the court and apparently he was looking seriously injured. His car was hit on Motorway while he was travelling to Islamabad.

Islamabad High Court

Addressing the court, he expressed the apprehension of another such incident, saying he was the first target of the incumbent regime.

The PTI leader recalled that his name was placed on the no-fly list even before the incumbent prime minister took the oath of office. He said the government nominated him as an accused in the FIRs registered in connection with the Masjid-i-Nabwi incident.

Justice Minallah exempted Mr Gill from personal appearance on account of his injuries.

Mr Gill had filed the petition through his counsel during Eid holidays and Chief Justice Minallah had granted him protective bail till May 6.

Police in various cities, including Islamabad, registered FIRs against former PM Imran Khan, former information minister Fawad Chaudhry, Shahbaz Gill, former interior minister Sheikh Rashid, his nephew Sheikh Rashid Shafique and others under Sections 295 (defiling the place of worship) and 296 (disturbing religious assembly) of the Pakistan Panel Code (PPC) in connection with the Masjid-i-Nabwi incident.