Former Pakistan Chief Justice optimistic about comeback

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Islamabad, Nov 5 (UNI) Deposed Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry exuded confidence that he would stage a comeback, reiterating that the present set up was ''illegal and unconstitutional''.

In his first-ever interview to The News after being placed under house-arrest, he said all the superior judiciary's latest appointments had no validity.

Mr Chaudhry said the seven-member bench of the apex court headed by him, which had stayed the PCO and also restrained the judges of the superior judiciary from taking oath under the PCO, had termed the present set-up completely illegal.

He said the judges appointed in all the provincial high courts and the Supreme Court on Saturday and Sunday had no legal backing.

''Everything that is happening today is illegal, unconstitutional and against the orders of the Supreme Court,'' Justice Iftikhar said, adding that he was sure that the pre-November 3 situation would revive.

Sounding confident and relaxed, the deposed Chief Justice said he had neither done anything wrong previously when he was suspended on March 9 nor had he done any such thing now.

''God has blessed me with success last time and I am sure that he would again bless me and other respected judges, who had refused to take fresh oath under the PCO, in a similar manner this time too,'' he said.

Without referring to President Parvez Musharraf's last night speech that contained a ''charge sheet'' against the judiciary, Justice Chaudhry said it was wrong to conclude that the judiciary had been lenient towards terrorists.

It was not possible for the judges of the Supreme Court to start punishing people without the availability of evidence against them, he noted.

Justice Chaudhry disclosed that out of his serious concern over terrorism, he set up a committee that included judges from each provincial high court to expedite terrorism cases.

Referring to the Lal Masjid case, the deposed Chief Justice said the division bench of the apex court that passed strict orders including the rebuilding of Jamia Hafsa, release of those arrested, payment of compensation etc comprised Justice Nawaz Abbasi and Justice Faqir Muhammad Khokhar, both of whom have now taken fresh oath under the PCO.

''These are testing times for me from Allah and I will react to this situation in the same manner as is desired by the Creator of all,'' he said.

Justice Chaudhry praised the judges who refused to take oath under the PCO mentioning the name of Justice Javed Iqbal, who despite getting the opportunity to become the CJ of Pakistan on Saturday, refused to take oath.

He was determined to launch yet another phase of his struggle for an independent judiciary, rule of law and to uphold the Constitution.

He hoped that the media would support the struggle for the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.


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