LAHORE: Minister for Interior Ahsan Iqbal on Wednesday appeared before a Lahore High Court full bench and explained his position on the ‘anti-judiciary’ remarks he had made apparently in response to observations by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar about his (minster’s) involvement in appointment of a vice chancellor of a women’s university.
The minister told the bench that he could not even think of disgracing the judiciary. “I am a political worker and a true believer of democracy,” he said and added that in his view democracy could not survive without a strong judiciary.
Referring to his statement in question, Mr Iqbal said it was a personal shikwa (complaint), which he made to the chief justice of Pakistan. He said his political rivals dragged his name in the appointment of vice chancellor with mala fide intention. He said his statement was within the constitutional limits.
Justice Syed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, who heads the bench, asked the minster whether conduct of a judge could be discussed in the parliament. The judge further asked the minister whether he had read Article 19 of the Constitution (freedom of expression). However, Mr Iqbal said he was not a student of law but studied engineering from US.
Directing the minister to keep his voice lower, the judge observed that every citizen should have the basic knowledge of the Constitution.
Earlier, the minister tendered his apology for not appearing before the court on previous hearing, saying he went to perform a thanksgiving Umra after he survived an attempt on his life. He said he returned to the country last night.
The bench directed the minister to submit his explanation in writing on the next hearing.
The minister’s counsel, Azam Nazir Tarar, requested the bench not to show the video of the minister’s statement in the courtroom as there was nothing in it. However, the bench directed its staff to make arrangements for next hearing to play the video on a screen using projector.
The bench adjourned the matter till June 5.
The same bench is seized with similar cases, including the one pertaining to alleged anti-judiciary speeches of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and the rally taken out by the PML-N’s leader in Kasur.
Published in Dawn, May 31st, 2018