Justice Isa urges criticism of individuals — not institutions

The Supreme Court’s Justice Qazi Faez Isa urged the public to criticise individuals instead of institutions in his speech on Saturday at this year’s Asma Jahangir Conference taking place in Lahore.

“I would only request that you don’t judge us as an institution because there is good in the institution; there is also bad in the institution,” he said while reminding the attendees that as the public, they are the ones who can judge the judges “individually”.

The justice emphasised: “Judge us as judges, condemn me as a judge, do not condemn the Supreme Court.”

He added that Pakistan needed the judiciary, the executive, the military and more than anything else, it needed to be led by the elected representative of the people. “Pakistan needs democracy,” he said.

Speaking in a “personal capacity”, Justice Isa welcomed criticism, as he would never hold anyone for contempt of court, however, he reiterated people avoid criticising the institution because without an institution, “a country implodes, it breaks apart […] practically”.

He highlighted the importance of the public’s role after talking about the “tumultuous” political history of Pakistan and listing the various methods through which prime ministers in the country’s history have been assassinated, removed, and hanged — including Liaquat Ali Khan, Khwaja Nazimuddin and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

‘Monitor us all’

The judge further went on to list important acronyms that have often been mentioned in politics recently — like the JIT (joint investigation team) and PCO (Provisional Constitutional Order) — and suggested one of his own: the CMDC, or the Citizen’s Monitor of Democracy and Constitution, that would give the public the right to “monitor those whose salaries… [and] pensions” they pay.

He further suggested that the CMDC should have “a black, a grey and a white list”. He first mentioned individuals affiliated with his own institution, the judiciary.

“In my personal opinion, speaking as a student of law — not as a judge, but as a student of history and politics — I would put in the black list: Justice Mohammad Munir, Justice Anwarul Haq [and] Justice Irshad Hassan Khan.”

In the “white list”, he suggested the inclusion of Justice Constantine, Justice Achal and Justice Mohammad Baksh.

Talking about part of the executive, he said he would put in the “black list” General Ayub Khan General Ziaul Haq, General Pervez Musharaf.

He further added: “I would put in the white list: two white Englishmen — not because they are white — […] the first Commander in Chief of Pakistan Army, General Sir Frank Walter Messervy […] I would put […] the second Commander in Chief of Pakistan Army, General Sir Douglas Gracey.”

The justice gave examples of “glorious tradition” from Islamic history of notable figures not giving in to pressure and reminded judges, “If you are pressurised and you sell the country, the history will remember you.”

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