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Wednesday Nov 21 2018

Asia Bibi case shows how justice failed to deliver on merit: CJP

LONDON: Chief Justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar has said that the case of Asia Bibi showed how the justice system failed to deliver on merit, depriving people of their due right to justice and fairness.

The CJP made the remarks during his meetings with a group of British Pakistani parliamentarians who had invited him for a tour of the British parliament. The event, arranged in the committee room of the House of Commons, was attended by Afzal Khan MP, Naz Shah MP, Rehman Chishti MP, Faisal Rasheed MP, Yasmeen Qureshi MP, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, Muhammad Yaseem MP, Khalid Mahmood MP and Lord Qurban Hussain.

Sayeeda Warsi and Rehman Chishti asked questions about the case of Asia Bibi, while MP Naz Shah raised the issue of murder in Islamabad of Barrister Fahad Malik, brother of British Pakistani entrepreneur Jawad Malik.

Justice Nisar said that Pakistan’s justice system is fractured and it needs reforms so that it could be made relevant to the modern world for dispensation of speedy and quality justice to citizens of Pakistan.

The CJP said that he was not ‘a shy person who will not accept his error on the part of his institution’. He said that there was no evidence in Asia’s case but “unfortunately it took about eight years”. He said that there have been delays in this case and acknowledged that for about four years this case has been in the Supreme Court but then it was dealt with.

Responding to Warsi’s assertion that Asia Bibi should be given asylum in the UK, the CJP replied: “As far as the protection is concerned, I don’t think she should be given asylum … because it’s the duty of the state to protect the life and property of its citizens and if she is sent abroad it means that the state of Pakistan has failed. She should be given maximum protection in Pakistan.”

The CJP said that the government of Pakistan has to act strong or there will be no end (of such cases) and this will show the failure of the state. He said safeguarding her is responsibility of the government.

Answering a question about the issue around Asia Bibi being on the Exit Control List (ECL), the CJP said that the law doesn’t provide for any such provision in a case like this. He said he was sure that the judiciary would not pass any illegal order.

Answering a question by Naz Shah MP on the killing of British national Fahad Malik, the CJP acknowledged that there has been a delay and stressed that he himself has taken notice of this case. Honourable Justice Nisar said that he called the anti-terrorism court (ATC) judge to the Supreme Court and asked him about the delay in Fahad Malik’s case. “The judge told me he has dealt with only two cases in the last two months when I asked him about his performance,” remarked the chief justice, adding that performance of the judge was not satisfactory.

The CJP said that this case should have been resolved at the institutional level, without his personal intervention. He said the delay in Fahad Malik’s case pointed towards institutional failure.

The CJP said that he had no hesitation in stating that Pakistan suffered from institutional failure on many fronts. He said that Pakistan was made after a lot of sacrifices but successive governments failed on institution-building and as a result Pakistan is faced with dire situation of governance failure.

The CJP said that it was not his job to criticise other organs of the state, but it’s a matter of fact that the parliament failed to accomplish its job in many ways.

The CJP described how he visited many hospitals and found that in a hospital out of five ventilators, three didn’t work and the remaining two were reserved for the VIPs.

The Chief Justice Saqib Nisar said that he found that in the Saaf Paane (Clean Water) case, nearly four billion Rupees were spent. “I asked the Chief Minister and he conceded before the court that while there have been meetings and briefings and task forces, not a single drop of water has been produced.”

Speaking about his campaigning to raise funds for the dam, the CJP said that Pakistan is facing acute water shortage and water resources have mainly either dried up or drying up fast, therefore it was most important to find new resources of water. He said he decided to work on the need for constructing dams after realising that how serious this problem was.

The CJP thanked overseas Pakistanis for their efforts in helping Pakistan whenever the need arose. “I don’t have enough words to thank overseas Pakistanis for what they have done for Pakistan. They have always helped Pakistan and they are doing their best to help Pakistan in efforts to build dams.”

A journalist asked the CJP why no action has been taken against the religious extremists who recently issued threats to generals and judges while politicians like Faisal Raza Abidi and Nehal Hashmi were jailed over contempt, the CJP replied: “You will get to know soon.”

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