Friday Nov 16, 2018
LAHORE: Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Mian Saqib Nisar on Friday, while hearing a petition challenging the appointment of Zulfi Bukhari as the prime minister's special assistant on overseas Pakistanis, remarked that “matters cannot be run on the basis of friendships” and that the premier is a trustee of the nation who should not run matters as per his own will.
The chief justice heard a petition in the Supreme Court’s Lahore Registry challenging Bukhari’s appointment as the PM's special assistant as he is a dual national.
The court sought a detailed report of Bukhari’s appointment and his qualifications as the prime minister's special assistant on overseas Pakistanis. The hearing of the case was then adjourned till December 5.
During the hearing, the top judge remarked, “Appointments on key posts are an important national duty and such matters should be run as per national interest and not on the basis of friendships.”
As the hearing went under way, the chief justice expressed anger over Bukhari’s attitude and remarked, “You should leave your anger at home and then come. You might be someone else’s friend but you are not a friend of the Supreme Court.”
Justice Nisar also asked the attorney general to apprise Bukhari regarding his attitude.
Following this, Bukhari’s counsel, Aitzaz Ahsan, informed the court, “The prime minister has the authority to appoint special assistants.”
At this, the chief justice remarked, “The prime minister does not have unrestrained authority and is a trustee of the nation.”
“The prime minister should not run matters as per his own will. We will decide whether the matters are being run in line with the Constitution or not,” the top judge added.
Further, Justice Nisar added, "Nepotism should not be seen in appointments on higher posts."
He then questioned, “On what basis was Bukhari appointed and who directed that a summary regarding this appointment be prepared?”
Bukhari’s counsel responded, “The prime minister can also seek advice from [former US president] Barack Obama and Bukhari was not given a constitutional post.”
“He was appointed as per the rules of business,” Ahsan added.
Further, the counsel argued, Bukhari is not a member of the cabinet and the post of assistant to premier on overseas Pakistanis should be given to a dual national."
“If the person appointed to the post holds visas of the United Kingdom and Pakistan it helps,” Bukhari’s counsel added.
Commenting on Ahsan’s remarks, the chief justice said, “This is an important case.”
The court then adjourned the hearing till December 5.
Bukhari was appointed as a special assistant to the prime minister on overseas Pakistanis and human resource development in September.
The London-based businessman, who is a close friend of PM Imran, has the status of a minister of state.