Islamabad IG grilled over ex-PM aide’s Siddiqui arrest

ISLAMABAD: The high-handedness meted out to Irfan Siddiqui, a close aide to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, also caught the attention of Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa.

A official to the development confided to the media that the chief justice expressed his annoyance over the event during a high-level meeting, which was also attended by Inspector General of Islamabad Police Mohammad Amir Zulfikar, Inter-Services Intelligence Director General Lt Gen Faiz Hameed, the Intelligence Bureau director general and office-bearers of SAARCLAW.

Chief Justice Khosa, who presided over the meeting, also conveyed to the IG that such events were giving a bad name to the judiciary.

Irfan Siddiqui, who was picked up from outside his residence on Saturday, was sent to Adiala jail on a 14-day remand after the magistrate court denied him bail, but the same magistrate ordered his release on bail the following day (Sunday), though the plea for bail filed by the adviser-cum-columnist was scheduled for hearing on Monday.

The arrest caused quite a furore with condemnations pouring in from all sides, including politicians and civil society members.

The official said that during the meeting held at the Supreme Court building, the CJP expressed his regret over the way the senior columnist was treated and sent to jail when even media personnel were not allowed to cover the event.

The meeting was also attended by Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel and Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmad.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss security arrangements for the upcoming SAARCLAW conference scheduled to be held in Islamabad sometime in September. The conference is expected to be attended by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and chief justices of five Saarc-member countries, besides lawyers.

Matters relating to issuance of visas to delegates, their security, travel arrangements and hotel accommodations were discussed during the meeting.

Following the meeting with CJP Khosa as well as with National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, top officials of the capital police decided to shift the entire burden in the Irfan Siddiqui episode to junior officers of the Ramna police station, police officers told media on condition of anonymity.

Earlier, the IG briefed the NA speaker on the entire incident. According to the officers, the speaker expressed his annoyance and asked the police chief to take stern action against those responsible for the arrest of Mr Siddiqui.

A spokesman for the speaker said it was an in-camera meeting in which the IG briefed the speaker on the incident.

The police officers conceded that the humiliation meted out to Mr Siddiqui exposed some politically-affiliated police officers who were giving a bad name to the force. “He (Mr Siddiqui) is a senior columnist and adviser to the ex-premier and, therefore, the directive to arrest him was issued by the police high-ups who were fully aware about the handcuffing incident,” they confided.

As the police high-handedness was exposed and explanations were sought, the high-ups were seriously considering suspending three officers — SHO, duty officer and investigation officer — of the Ramna police Station. However, the decision was opposed by former officers and officials who informed the high-ups and asked as to why low-ranking officers were punished all the time, they said.

The IG, Deputy Inspector General (operations) Waqaruddin Syed and spokesman for the police assistant Inspector General Sardar Ghias Gul Khan were not available for comment on the issue.

Meanwhile, Chief Justice Khosa also addressed the “Orientation Session for Judges of MCACs and MTMCs on Expeditious Justice Initiative” at the Federal Judicial Academy. He stressed the need for judging with passion to expect good results and said those who dispense justice were among seven categories of people whom Allah Almighty kept close.

Citing his own example, the CJP said that during his 22-year tenure in the judiciary, he decided a number of difficult and sensitive cases and faced numerous challenges and pressures of different kinds be it political, religious or legal. “But the right thing is to deliver just decisions and in return Allah Almighty would protect us,” he added.

“It is the job of the judges to dispense justice without fear or favour or succumbing to any pressure or influence,” the chief justice observed, adding that judges were like agents of God who dispensed justice among the people in His name.

“What is the difference between a judge, lawyer or an ordinary litigant if the judges do not decide cases rather linger on? Why should people respect a judge if he does not decide a case,” the chief justice wondered and explained that after assuming the high office of the top adjudicator of the country early this year, the judiciary was facing a daunting task of clearing backlog of 1.9 million cases. But only by fine-tuning the system and bringing out little irritants like the menace of adjournments and by introducing continuous trial method, scheduling of cases and support from the top judicial officers, the huge pendency had been reduced to 1.7 million cases in just a few months, he said.

Referring to the Supreme Court, the chief justice observed that out of 13,000 criminal cases, the principle seat in Islamabad had been left with 41 such cases, Lahore registry with 93 criminal cases, Peshawar five and both Karachi and Quetta zero criminal cases.

The chief justice was very happy to announce that the model criminal courts had decided 10,600 murder as well as narcotic cases in just 96 days. He said no system was bad, but its operators made it good or bad, adding that for effective working of any system, the requisite support must come from the top and small things must be taken into consideration to make a difference in big way.

“One must change himself/herself first to see the change in the society,” the chief justice observed, adding that change always came from the top. “It always comes bearing fruits. We have a changed judiciary today in Pakistan”.