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NIAS Pakistan Weekly
Justice Isa takes oath as the Chief Justice of Pakistan

  PR Team

PR Short Note
Justice Isa takes oath as the Chief Justice of Pakistan
Shamini Velayutham

On 17 September, Justice Qazi Faez Isa was sworn in as the 29th Chief Justice of Pakistan during a ceremony that was equally significant and formal. His wife, Sarina Isa, stood by his side as he read the oath. Additionally, CJP Isa made history when he chose to name a judge as the first female registrar of the Supreme Court. President Arif Alvi, who had filed a reference against the judge four years prior due to suspected misconduct and non-disclosure of assets, performed the oath-taking ceremony at the Aiwan-i-Sadr.

New bench
The Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act 2023, a bill that called for the formation of benches on constitutional matters of public importance by a committee of three senior judges of the court, has been challenged in nine separate cases. The Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP), Qazi Faez Isa, has convened the full court, which includes all 15 judges of the Supreme Court, to address these cases.The Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill 2023 was passed by the PDM's previous administration to reduce the chief judge's authority. According to the law, the CJP's office lacks the authority to take a suo motu notice in its capacity. This law specifies that a three-member bench, consisting of the Chief Justice of Pakistan and the two senior-most justices on the Supreme Court, shall decide whether or not to hear a case suo motu. This used to be completely the CJP's authority. Additionally, it expands the Supreme Court's review authority by allowing suo motu cases the ability to appeal within 30 days of the ruling.

A notable absence
Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, federal ministers, governors, and several previous chief justices and judges, such as Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Tassaduq Jillani, Manzoor Malik, Mazhar Alam Miankhel, Dost Muhammad Khan, and Iqbal Hameedur Rehman, attended the ceremony. Isa Umar Ata Bandial, Gulzar Ahmed, Asif Saeed Khosa, and Saqib Nisar were the four CJP's direct predecessors whose absence was notable. Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate General Lt Gen Naveed Ahmad Anjum and his wife, as well as Chief of the Army Staff General Asim Muneer, were present. At such a gathering, the army chief's wife made her debut. There were also representatives from several bar associations and bar councils in attendance.

Chief Justice Qazi Faiz Isa, took his oath without the presence of any ambassadors, high commissioners, or foreign diplomats. The lone exception was José Antonio de Ory, the Spanish ambassador, who represents the nation that Serena Isa, the new chief justice's spouse, originates from. She did make the event special. Samina Alvi, the first lady, who regularly attends these events, was noticeably absent.

Political leaders desire "balanced scales of justice"
Political leaders have congratulated Qazi Faez Isa on being appointed the 29th Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) and expressed the hope that, under his guidance, the court will be impartial in the administration of justice. Shehbaz Sharif, a former prime minister, and Maryam Nawaz Sharif, the head of the PML-N, expressed optimism that the next chief justice would uphold the fundamentals of justice. In congratulating CJP Isa on his new duties, Mr. Shehbaz emphasized that upholding the Constitution, the law, and business regulations was the only way to ensure that justice was administered fairly.

The former prime minister stated in a statement that he wished the incoming CJP well and that the people were eagerly awaiting the administration of justice. He anticipated that the appointment would improve the international standing and prestige of Pakistan's judicial system. With his appointment, Ms Nawaz expressed her appreciation for the new chief judge and her hope that "justice will return to courtrooms." Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, the PPP's speaker of the national assembly, also sent Justice Isa his best wishes for success in his new position. He praised judicial Isa as a capable and seasoned jurist and expressed his optimism that his leadership would improve the performance of the judicial institutions.

References
Nasir Iqbal, “Full court to take up law limiting CJP’s powers today,” Dawn, 18 September 2023;
Amjad Mahmood, “Political leaders want new CJP to ‘balance scales of justice,” Dawn, 18 September 2023;
Muhammad Saleh Zaafir, “Alvi evades query over giving oath to judge he filed reference against,” The News International, 18 September 2023;
Political leaders, parties felicitate new CJP,” The Express Tribune, 18 September 2023


PR Newsmakers
Pakistan mourns the loss of their celebrated Baloch poet Mubarak Qazi
Femy Francis

On 16 September, Pakistan lost a beloved Balochistan poet Mubarak Qazi in Turbat at the age of 68. The celebrated poet came from the coastal town of Pasni considered the city poets. During his early life his family nurtured him with Balochi literature that he inherited and honed throughout his life. Not only was he a proficient poet but political activist, arrested for protesting against the death sentence of a Balochistan Student Organisation leader Hameed Baloch.

 

He was the founder “Balochi Labzanki Shingkari Majlis Pasni” a literary organization and also served as the director and finance officer for the Fisher Harbor Pasni. His poems were widely appreciated and was a pioneer for the modernization of Baloch literature, infiltrating the Bloch poetry with themes of romance, nationalism and spirituality. His words became the voices of the downtrodden and oppressed, where he used his talents to critique the parliamentarians voicing the woes of the common. Some excerpts from his poem “O breeze, hear me out, As you pass by the domains of tribal chiefs and notables, Where the kings of the modern world convene with Chakar, And where self-made elders sit amongst the notables, Proclaim with a resounding voice, Mercy, for tyranny’s days are numbered.”

 

Condolences poured since his passing with caretaker Chief Minister of Balochistan Ali Mardan Domki said “I mourn the loss of my friend, Qazi. His soul was adorned with the exquisite artistry of words, weaving poetry that touched the hearts of many. Due to his political activism, his path was filled with hardships and sacrifices for the Baloch cause. His contributions are immense.” Human Rights Commission of Pakistan also offered their grievance and posted: “HRCP is deeply saddened by the death of leading poet Mubarak Qazi in #Turbat. Qazi gave a new meaning to romance with political resistance in Balochi poetry. We offer condolences to his family, friends and readers.”


PR Short Note
“The country is sleepwalking into a human development disaster of serious consequences for its future,” says Maleeha Lodhi
Femy Francis

On 18 September, an editorial in Dawn on “Pakistan’s other crisis” by Maleeha Lodhi examined Pakistan’s Human Development Crisis. The author informs of the economic crisis facing Pakistan caused by chronic fiscal deficit and external imbalances leading to a never-ending balance of payment problem. The crisis has to face the adverse global market, where the forex reserves have seen no change despite IMF bailout loan. The editorial states that there is another crisis facing Pakistan which is the crisis in Human development. With all indicators of literacy, health, education and social justice seeing a steep decline.

Education and Human Development Index
Pakistan Human Capital Review pushes for increased attention to Human capital development. The UNDP’s Global Human Development Report of 2022 ranked Pakistan at 161 positions out of 192 countries and the World Bank rates Pakistan in Human Capital Index lowest amongst all South Asian countries. Lodhi points out that the education deficit should be of concern but is nowhere near the country’s priorities, where Pakistan has the second largest number of children where a staggering 44 per cent are not in school or drop out of one. With a vibrant youth demographic, the lack of education has led to 40 per cent of the population being illiterate, amongst the lowest in the South Asian region.

Health survey and Poverty crisis
Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey found an astonishing gender gap where 61 per cent of the rural women were illiterate. Poverty alleviation has equally seen no growth with malnourishment, inflationary prices, and job scarcity have further raised the woes. The World Bank estimated that poverty in Pakistan has increased by 5 per cent bringing it to 39.4 per cent in 2023. With that, the country faces a public health crisis with 40 per cent of Pakistani children under five stunted as reported by the Human Capital Review. Children in Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are found to have the most aggregate of stunted children with the former being at 50 per cent and the latter at 48 per cent. Despite the alarming reports, the government taken no measures to address them.

Gender Parity
Pakistan has seen little to no improvement in reaching Gender Parity, where gaps in all sectors remain wide. According to World Economic Forums Global Gender Report 2023, Pakistan has performed even worse ranking 132 out of 142 countries for education and 132 out of 146 countries in health and survival. The aggregates fail to show the systemic challenges and injustices the women in Pakistan face. The overall picture for Pakistan remains bleak as the author warns that: “Pakistan may be sleepwalking to a disaster that can only be ignored at great peril to the country’s stability, economic progress and prosperity.”
 


PR Short Note
Anticipated return of Nawaz Sharif
Femy Francis

 

On 12 September, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif announced the homecoming of his big brother and PML-N Supremo Nawaz Sharif on 21 October 2023. Nawaz left Pakistan for almost four years in self-imposed exile to the UK following his corruption case. He was convicted for seven years of imprisonment in Al- Aziza Mills and Avenfield corruption case 2018, and was allowed to go to London in 2019 on “medical ground” from where he never returned. Nawaz stressed that the charges filed against him were “politically motivated” and he refutes any financial fraudulence.

Response: “Historic Welcome”
On 14 September, PML-N chief organizer daughter of PML-N supremo, Maryam Nawaz Sharif, urged the party ticket holders to gather supporters for the “historic welcome” of Nawaz Sharif. The party plan to congregate 200,000 supports to receive the party supremo. Maryam also informed the party members the candidature of her father for the position of Prime Minister and urged: “the people to give him the two-thirds majority in the election so that he could change their destiny.” A clear mandate by the public is vital for his return to politics and to steer the country out of crisis, stated Maryam. Additionally, a retired Captain Muhammad Safdar said that Nawaz’s return can only change and improve the fate of Pakistan. He said his expulsion in 2018 was due Nawaz’s refusal to give extension to Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Change in the Political Climate
An editorial in The Friday Times reported on the Nawaz Sharif’s return where it stated that the political climate has seen major shift since Nawaz Sharif left Pakistan. The recent political climate poses a unique challenge for Nawaz Sharif and his party to come into power with the public sentiments more towards anti- establishment and the inflation rate hitting the roof have polarized public opinion and parties. PML-N party is tackling fissure within as a section is leaning against the military involvement and aims for ‘civil supremacy,’ the Shehbaz Sharif faction strongly believes in working with establishment can aid them with patronage. This puts Nawaz in a conundrum as to reignite the anti- establishment party stance that might result with him facing political and legal crackdown if not, he might lose on already dwindling support base. Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir has been making rounds to “fix” the country. Recently he led electricity pilferage crackdown against hoarders and smugglers. All the while promising to get USD 100 billion aid through Special Investment Facilitation Council therefore steering the economic policy for Pakistan. The stronghold of military interference into the legislative and executive branches mean that Nawaz Sharif cannot afford to disappoint the establishment.

References
Zulqernain Tahir, “Maryam asks party leaders to accord rousing welcome to Nawaz on Oct 21,” Dawn, 15 September 2023;
Only Nawaz can put Pakistan on 'right track', says Safdar,” The Express Tribune, 14 September 2023
 

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