ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Qazi Faez Isa on Saturday said he would “neither be pressurized nor favor anyone” as he responded to a letter written by former prime minister Imran Khan that sough equal opportunities for all political parties in the upcoming general elections.
In his letter written to CJP Isa this week, Khan had drawn CJP Isa’s attention toward the “discrimination” faced by his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, citing “disappearances” and “arbitrary arrests” of his supporters. The ex-premier said there was no possibility of a fair general election on February 8 without the intervention of the apex court to halt these widespread arrests.
The development came amid a months-long crackdown on supporters of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, which began after violent attacks on government and military installations over Khan’s brief arrest in a graft case in May this year. Several top aides and members of Khan’s party have since distanced themselves from the party, while many still remain behind bars.
In response to Khan’s letter, the chief justice’s secretary, Mushtaq Ahmed, said the top judge was fully cognizant of his duties and would continue to abide by the oath of his office.
“Let all be assured that Justice Qazi Faez Isa, the Chief Justice of Pakistan, is fully cognizant of his constitutional duties and will neither be pressurized nor favor anyone, and by the grace of the Almighty shall continue to fulfil his duties and abide by the oath of his office,” Ahmed said in a press statement.
Referring to Khan’s letter, Ahmed said the office of the chief justice received an undated seven-page application on Friday, which comprised a typed application, tabulated tables and photocopies, altogether 84 pages, without the identity and contact details of the advocate who had prepared it.
Surprisingly, before receiving the document (in a sealed envelope), it had already been distributed to the media, the chief justice’s secretary noted.
“As per the envelope, the document was couriered by ‘Intazar Hussian Panjutha (Adv)’. Misgivings also arise when the political party on whose behalf the document has ostensibly been sent is well represented by advocates,” the statement read.
“Only recently its advocates conducted two significant cases in the Supreme Court, on the military courts and on the elections.”
Khan, who was ousted in a parliamentary no-trust vote in April 2022, wrote the letter amid repeated accusations by his PTI party against the current caretaker administration and the military establishment of having a soft corner for three-time former premier Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party.
Sharif, who was convicted of corruption in 2018 and returned to Pakistan in October after nearly four years in self-imposed exile, was on Wednesday acquitted in a case relating to the purchase of upscale London flats. He was previously sentenced to 10 years in prison in the case.
Khan, who is in jail since August 5 after being convicted in a case involving the sale of state gifts, says the cases against him are “politically motivated” and aimed at keeping him out of politics, while his loyalists see the recent judgments granting relief to Sharif and his family members as favors given to the PML-N, which appears to be poised to take over the reins of the country once again.