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ANALYSIS: CJP Isa Expresses Discontent With Faizabad Inquiry Commission’s Report

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Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa recently expressed profound dissatisfaction with the performance of the inquiry commission that was formed to investigate the 2017 Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) Faizabad sit-in. His criticism highlights ongoing concerns about accountability and transparency within Pakistan’s governance mechanisms.

During a hearing that was part of a series of review petitions against the Supreme Court’s 2019 judgement on the Faizabad sit-in, Justice Isa’s frustrations were evident. The session was conducted by a three-member bench, led by Justice Isa himself, and broadcast live, underscoring the high public interest and the judiciary’s push for transparency.

Justice Isa, who authored the poignant 2019 judgement before his appointment as Chief Justice, had set strict directives in the earlier ruling. It ordered the defence ministry and tri-services chiefs to penalise personnel who had violated their oaths and directed the government to monitor and prosecute those advocating extremism. The judgement also criticised various government departments for their roles in exacerbating the public disorder caused by the sit-in, which paralyzed life in Islamabad and Rawalpindi for 20 days.

During the recent hearings, Justice Isa pointed out that the inquiry commission’s report failed to meet the established terms of reference (ToRs). He noted that the report did not adequately fix responsibility for the failures that allowed the sit-in to spiral out of control. The Chief Justice remarked on the inquiry body’s apparent lack of awareness of its responsibilities and criticised the shallow probe into the events and actors involved.

The commission, according to Justice Isa, seemed to have based its findings too heavily on statements from certain military figures without sufficient independent verification or consideration of other sources. Particularly, he noted contradictory statements regarding the role of retired Gen Faiz Hameed and questioned why the commission treated his comments with such finality.

Justice Isa’s criticism extended to the handling of evidence and the involvement of intelligence agencies. He was particularly critical of the failure to record statements from TLP workers who were directly involved in the sit-in, suggesting that their input might have brought forward the truth about the sit-in’s financing and organisation.

Moreover, the Chief Justice expressed his dismay at the minimal legislative suggestions from the commission, questioning the necessity of its formation if it only reiterated existing laws without any substantive recommendations for accountability or procedural improvements.

The Supreme Court’s demands for accountability extend beyond the commission to the broader apparatus of the state, including intelligence agencies and the military. Justice Isa’s persistent inquiries about the role of these entities in public disruptions reflect a deeper judicial endeavour to delineate boundaries between military and civilian spheres of influence.

Justice Isa also highlighted previous incidents like the violent events of May 12, 2007, in Karachi, which the commission overlooked. His insistence on revisiting such matters underscores an effort to ensure past injustices are acknowledged and addressed, which is crucial for healing and national cohesion.

This rigorous scrutiny by the Chief Justice is indicative of a judiciary striving to assert its independence and uphold the rule of law in Pakistan’s complex political landscape. By challenging the adequacy of the commission’s report and calling for more profound investigations, Justice Isa is advocating for a transparent, accountable governance system that respects and protects the rights of all citizens.

As the judiciary continues to confront these challenges, Justice Isa’s role seems pivotal in steering the discourse towards greater accountability and transparency in dealing with civil unrest and governmental failures. This stance not only supports judicial independence but also sets a precedent that could significantly influence Pakistan’s trajectory towards stronger democratic governance and institutional accountability.

Hassan Naqvi
Hassan Naqvi
Hassan Naqvi is an award-winning digital, print, and broadcast investigative journalist who is the co-founder of The Scoop. He also hosts his web shows 'The Scoop' and 'The Hassan Naqvi Show'.

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