Imran Urges CJP Isa To Stop Constitutional Crisis From Boiling Over

Letter focuses on several incidents and cases, including Bahawalnagar, the incarceration of PTI leaders and military courts, a letter by IHC judges and PTI's reserved seats

Imran Urges CJP Isa To Stop Constitutional Crisis From Boiling Over

Former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Founder Imran Khan on Saturday wrote a terse letter to Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa urging him to take action on "matters of grave importance", warning that his inaction could exacerbate the constitutional crisis brewing in the country, warning that it could pus the country closer and closer to the abyss.

The four-page letter was signed by Imran Khan, who remains incarcerated in Adiala Jail after being convicted in the Toshakhana, Official Secrets Acts and illegal marriage contract cases.

Imran raised seven issues in his letter, including the prosecution of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in the Toshakhana case by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the incident in Bahawalnagar where uniformed military officers allegedly barged into a police station and beat up the staff there before stripping them naked and tying them up while filming them.

Other issues included the letter written by six judges of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) to Chief Justice Isa relaying the interference, intimidation, and surveillance of judges; the trial of PTI workers by military and other courts over incidents of May 9; the statement by the Rawalpindi commissioner on alleged rigging in elections and PTI's pending petitions on elections; and the refusal to allocate reserved seats to PTI.

On the Toshakhana issue, Imran described the case against Nawaz Sharif, who "through dishonest and illegal means for personal benefit and interest", had procured a luxury vehicle from Toshakhana. The case was lodged five years ago, just as Imran Khan came into power.

"But now, all of a sudden, after having pursued it as an open and shut case for all those years, with statements of 15 out of 25 witnesses already recorded, NAB prosecutors are proposing to the Accountability Court to exonerate Mian Nawaz Sharif." 

Imran said this makes a mockery of the justice system as NAB was "clearly siding with thieves."

"The dishonesty, discrimination and double standards employed by NAB at the behest of its puppet chairman Nazir Ahmed Butt call for a thorough inquiry into Butt's conduct and for his removal from office."

On the Bahawalnagar incident, Imran noted that it was tantamount to "uniformed vigilante justice."

He said the incident sends a message that the police cannot cross an invisible line against those who stand above it in the pecking order. Despite that, Imran moaned that the police repeatedly crossed every single line known to the public by raiding, vandalising and looting the homes of unarmed civilians. 

He accused the judiciary of being a "bystander" and "facilitator" of excesses against defenceless men, women and children. Moreover, he said that "conscientious" judges were targeted through references from powerful quarters.

"This begs the question: are the fundamental rights of human dignity and privacy of the home left to be enforced solely by the barrel of the gun, or does the judiciary retain any semblance of authority to enforce them across the board?"

He added that the lines drawn by our Constitution between the various pillars of the state are getting blurred into non-existence, and this has to be stopped before it is too late.

On the letter by the six judges, Imran said it was ironic that those dutybound to secure justice for others are themselves seeking justice.

He said that had the judiciary formed the judicial convention, demanded by the six judges, it would have exposed the scale of this meddling and demonstrated the extent to which, institutionally, those armed with weapons continue to overpower those armed with the pen.

"To date, however, the action taken by the Supreme Court on the subject has been meek and indecisive," he said, urging that this called for strict action on the part of the Supreme Court towards speedily setting the system right by coming to its own aid, by coming to the aid of all the high courts and by coming to the aid of all subordinate courts under their respective supervisory jurisdictions.

"Failing that, the people's confidence in the justice system of Pakistan, which is undergoing significant erosion already, will stand dismantled and demolished."

Imran also raised the issue of PTI supporters and workers who were arrested for their alleged involvement in the May 9 riots.

He began by claiming that he believed "in my heart" that more than 90% of those incarcerated or undergoing trials in different courts for the incidents of violence, arson and looting connected with the protests were innocent.

"The state, however, is acting as judge, jury and executioner in all these trials. Firstly, directly through military courts on the Constitutionality of which the Supreme Court has been dragging its feet for longer than it should, and, secondly, in an indirect manner, by holding guns to the heads of the subordinate court judges who are conducting the trials," Imran complained.

He referred to a petition filed by the PTI but pending in the Supreme Court since May 25, 2023, which called for an independent, transparent, and thorough inquiry into the May 9 violence. He urged the court to affix the case for hearing on a priority basis.

Referring to the press conference by the Rawalpindi Commissioner on February 17, admitting responsiblity for rigging during the February 8, 2024, general elections, Imran asked whether the Supreme Court feels so helpless that it does not deem this a matter of public importance with reference to the enforcement of fundamental rights conferred by Chapter 1 of Part II of the Constitution?

Imran drew the court's attention to petitions filed by the PTI on the illegality of the February 8 elections. Noting that the petitions have been languishing in the court for the past two months, Imran urged the top court to hear them.

He concluded the letter by raising the issue of the Election Commission of Pakistan redistributing reserved seats in the assemblies, which, he argued, belonged to the PTI.

Imran said that key appointments were voted on during a period when the houses were incomplete. 

He also challenged the legality of allotting reserved seats to political parties in excess of the proportion represented by their general seats.

Imran urged the top court to affix an early hearing of the petitions filed by party members thus far.

The former premier sought to recall CJP Isa's stated commitment to the principles and values espoused by the nation's founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, while leaving out how his government okayed a reference against CJP Isa in the Supreme Judicial Council.

"As what I believe to be the majority of our populace faces the wrath of the state. Now is the time for you to prove whether your declared belief in the principles and values espoused by Pakistan's founding fathers and your proclamation of the supremacy of the Constitution are for real or were mere hollow rhetoric."

The writer is an Islamabad based journalist working with The Friday Times. He tweets @SabihUlHussnain