PAKISTAN: Failure to protect Chief Justice Chaudhry would be a blatant act of negligence on the part of the government

The government of Punjab province, no doubt through the instructions of the government of the military regime of General Musharaff, is using some flimsy excuses to thwart the traveling arrangements of the Chief Justice Mr. Iftikhar Chaudhry. 

Mr. Chaudry is planning to travel by road from Rawalpindi to Lahore city, a distance of 260 kilometers, on May 5, 2007 in order to address the lawyers of the Lahore High Court Bar Association, at their invitation.

An ‘order’ by the Home Secretary of the Punjab Provincial Government as mentioned by several bar associations has stated that Mr. Chaudhry should not travel to Lahore as planned but rather travel by air as the government ‘is aware through reliable reports that there is a likelihood of terrorist/subversive activities in the Punjab [Province] in the days to come.’

The order continues to state that the likelihood of an ‘untoward incident’ cannot be ruled out and while the government of the Punjab will make all possible arrangements to ensure foolproof security for the honourable Chief Justice (on leave) it would be advisable for [him] to consider traveling by air.

The Asian Human Rights Commission believes that this is nothing more that a blatant threat to the Chief Justice to stay at home and desist from speaking in public. It is an obvious restriction on his freedom to travel at will. The government of Pakistan cannot legally restrain the Chief Justice from traveling anywhere so they are now resorting to the threat of an ‘untoward incident’ and terrorist activities. It is without any doubt what-so-ever that the government of Pakistan bears the sole responsibility to ensure the safety and security of all of its citizens not only the Chief Justice.

It appears that once again the military regime has failed to grasp the reality of the problem of the judicial crisis and rather than act with the real interest of the people of Pakistan at heart, they are continuing to ignore the very real desire of the community for rule of law, democracy and the independence of the judiciary.

The AHRC demands that the military regime of General Musharaff lifts any and all travel restrictions on Chief Justice Chaudhry and ensures his safety and security. Having been so bold as to suggest that an untoward incident might occur it would be a blatant act of negligence if the government failed to protect him.

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AS-091-2007
Countries : Pakistan,
Issues : Judicial system,