-Foreign Office terms the report as gratuitous, unwarranted
By Asghar Ali Mubarak
ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office (FO) took strong exception on Tuesday to the “gratuitous and unwarranted comments” made on Pakistan’s judicial system in the Investment Climate Statement for 2021 released by the US Department of State.
Responding to media queries regarding the report, FO Spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri stated that, “Judiciary in Pakistan is independent and the Courts are functioning in accordance with the Constitution and laws of the country. The allegations to the contrary are firmly denied as factually incorrect and misleading.” He stated that as a vibrant democracy, the government of Pakistan firmly believed in the separation of powers between the executive, legislative and the judicial branches of the state.
“There is no question of any coercion or pressure on Pakistan’s judiciary. The baseless assertions made in the report are contradicted by innumerable decisions by Pakistani courts at all levels that meet the highest standards of judicial independence,” the spokesperson added.
As per Chaudhri, while the statement acknowledged the progress made and reforms undertaken by Pakistan in improving its business and investment climate, despite extremely difficult circumstances due to the pandemic, it speculated on alleged shortcomings in Pakistan’s regulatory framework and based its conclusions on unverifiable sources.
“Mutually beneficial cooperation in the areas of economy, trade and investment with the international community including the US is one of the key priorities of the Government of Pakistan,” he further stated. The spokesperson said Pakistan will continue to take steps to optimally realise its geo-economic potential.
Days earlier, the US State Department had portrayed the judiciary of Pakistan in an extremely negative manner and stated that theoretically the country’s judicial system operates independently of the executive branch but the reality is quite different.
In its latest report, ‘2021 Investment Climate Statements: Pakistan’, the State Department says, “Pakistan’s judiciary is influenced by the government and other stakeholders. The lower judiciary is influenced by the executive branch and seen as lacking competence and fairness. It currently faces a significant backlog of unresolved cases.”
According to the report, there are doubts concerning the competence, fairness, and reliability of Pakistan’s judicial system. Released recently, the report says, “Theoretically, Pakistan’s judicial system operates independently of the executive branch.
However, the reality is different, as the establishment wields significant influence over the judicial branch. As a result, there are doubts concerning the competence, fairness, and reliability of Pakistan’s judicial system. However, fear of contempt of court proceedings inhibit businesses and the public generally from reporting on perceived weaknesses of the judicial process.” The report adds that Pakistan’s Contract Act of 1872 is the main law that regulates contracts with Pakistan. British legal decisions, under some circumstances, have also been cited in court rulings.