Asad Umar wonders why is Shehbaz Sharif happy over SC decision

PTI leader Asad Umar distances himself from cipher case saying planning ministry has no involvement in it

Arfa Feroz Zake
PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif (left) and party president Shehbaz Sharif. — AFP/File
PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif (left) and party president Shehbaz Sharif. — AFP/File

  • Overall the top court’s verdict is correct, says Asad Umar.
  • Says both PTI, Shehbaz happy over SC landmark decision.
  • Cipher sent to PM, FM, COAS and DG ISI: former minister. 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Asad Umar has termed the Supreme Court’s landmark verdict on law regulating the chief justice’s powers the “correct decision,” while wondering why PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif was "celebrating the decision”.

Speaking to the media outside the anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Islamabad on Thursday, Umar said overall the top court’s verdict was correct.

The Supreme Court, a day earlier, with a majority decision of 10-5 sustained the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act 2023, a law that clips the administrative powers of the chief justice of Pakistan, as being constitutional and dismissed the pleas challenging the vires of the law.

CJP Qazi Faez Isa mentioned that by a majority of 8-7 — CJP Isa, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Aminuddin Khan, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel, Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Musarrat Hilali dissenting — sub-section (2) of Section 5 of the Act (granting a right to appeal retrospectively) is declared to be ultra vires the Constitution.

With the right to retrospective appeal denied, it means that a prospective applicant such as Nawaz Sharif could not appeal against his lifetime disqualification from participation in politics.

Responding to a question, Umar said it remains to be seen whether Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif, who kicked off his journey back to Pakistan on Wednesday would return to the country after yesterday’s top court decision.

“Everyone is saying that this decision is not good for Nawaz Sharif then why is Shehbaz Sharif happy over this decision,” he quipped. “I am just asking an innocent question.. [that] both PTI and Shehbaz Sharif are happy over this decision.”

Umar was referring to the full court’s decision of not allowing right to appeal retrospectively against verdicts taken Article 184(3), meaning Nawaz may not able challenge his lifetime disqualification.

Speaking about cipher case related to the alleged use of diplomatic cable for vested and political purposes by former prime minister Imran Khan, Umar said he believed that the classified document was used legally.

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in August this year arrested PTI chief Imran Khan and Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi in cipher case after booking them under Official Secrets Act.

Umar said diplomatic cipher is sent to four officials — the prime minister, foreign ministry, army chief and DG ISI.

“Only my name and not planning ministry was mentioned in the [cipher] FIR,” he said while apparently distancing himself from the cipher controversy as he served as the planning minister in the PTI-led government.

Meanwhile, Umar appeared before the ATC in the Federal Judicial Complex attack case.

During the hearing of the case, PTI chief counsel implored the court to issue directive for his client production order in the court, who is currently held in Adiala prison in the cipher case.

ATC Judge Abul Hasnat Zulqarnain directed the Adiala jail superintendent to submit a report on the PTI chief’s security for his appearance in the court after consulting the Ministry of Interior by October 24.