Media not free in Pakistan: SC
Justice Qazi Faez Isa terms dissolution of LBs in Punjab blatant violation of constitution, murder of democracy
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As the hearing of the case regarding local government elections continued in the Supreme Court by a two-judge bench, Justice Qazi Isa asked Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Khalid Jawed Khan “is the media free in Pakistan”, then went on to say himself that those who have slapped curbs on the media were criminals and they should be in prison.
When the AGP said that the country is in a state of war, Justice Maqbool Baqir said “A war is really going on in the country and it is against the public.”
“Media in the country is in chains and is being managed; genuine journalists are being kicked out of media organisations, and thus the country is being systematically destroyed. Because when the media is destroyed, the country is destroyed,” Justice Isa said.
Though he admitted that judges should refrain from discussing such issues, but said what else he could do when the situation in the country was not ideal.
He said the purpose of the creation of Pakistan was to have democracy in the country. “When we said goodbye to democracy, the country was split into two,” he said, referring to the debacle of East Pakistan in 1971.
Justice Isa further said that objections to the census results and coronavirus pandemic were cited as the reasons for not holding LB elections.
Justice Isa told the additional advocate general (AAG) Punjab that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had declared that the dissolution of local bodies (LBs) by the Punjab government was an illegal act.
“The government of Punjab has made a blatant violation of the Constitution by dissolving the local bodies. We heard such stories during martial law regimes but never heard such a thing in a democratic era. This means the government will keep changing the LBs so long as it does not get the local governments of its choice. Dissolution was a murder of the democracy by the Punjab government,” Justice Isa remarked.
When Justice Isa inquired from the AAG whether he agreed with the ECP’s observation, the latter replied it was hard for him to answer this question.
Justice Isa said the court would write in the verdict that he was not interested in answering that question.
Speaking on the occasion, Rai Ahmad Nawaz Kharal, counsel for the Gilgit Baltistan (GB) government, prayed to the court to consider over two million people of GB party in the case since they had been kept deprived of the local bodies’ system for the last 12 years.
Justice Isa asked him to submit an application in this regard if he wanted to.
Justice Baqir said there was no decision on the census. “The issue is not in the priorities but it is being done deliberately.”
Justice Isa asked did the prime minister as chairman convene the meeting of the Council of Common Interests (CCI). In reply, the AGP said the prime minister did convene the CCI meeting but it could not take place for some reason.
The court adjourned hearing of the case till March 1 with directions to the ECP to keep working on holding LB elections.