IHC directs PM to review Abbasi’s appointment as SAPM

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Asks Imran Khan to submit whether he trusts courts
ISLAMABAD
Rejecting an application for stay order in the matter, the Islamabad High Court on Monday issued directives to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to review appointment of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Hanif Abbasi as his special aide.
IHC Chief Justice Athar
Minallah passed the orders while adjudicating a plea of Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed against the appointment of Abbasi as a special assistant to the prime minister (SAPM).
Appearing on behalf of former interior minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed in the matter before the court, Advocate Sajeel Sheryar Swati questioned the federal government’s appointment of Hanif Abbasi, saying the office of the SAPM required the selection of “people possessing high virtues and strong moral fibre…to these important public offices.”
Rashid has termed Abbasi as a person with a criminal conviction, particularly a conviction for dealing in narcotics which is an offence involving ‘moral turpitude’ claiming Abbasi is unsuitable to hold such a position.
The counsel argued before the bench that the SAPM’s office was one of the few public offices recognised and identified by the provisions of Article 260 of the Constitution, adding that while the PML-N leader was convicted and sentenced for the offences registered against him, the Lahore High Court’s (LHC) suspension of the sentence did not forgive his conviction.
During the course of proceedings, the IHC’s Chief Justice asked Sheikh Rashid to step forward to rostrum observing the manner in which allegations are levelled against the courts in the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) political gatherings is regrettable.
“Do you and your ally party PTI have confidence in the Islamabad High Court?” the CJ inquired while addressing Sheikh Rashid.
Chief Justice Athar Minallah further said that very important cases are pending in the court and if Sheikh Rashid has no trust in the courts, then the IHC can send the case to another court. Chief Justice Minallah also observed that Sheikh Rashid should also ask the PTI chairman, “if he does not have confidence in the judiciary then we will not hear the case.”
He further expressed that questions on the judiciary are raised every day in political rallies. “Political
statements are made that courts open at the behest of someone,” Chief Justice Minallah said, referring to PTI Chief Imran Khan’s repeated questioning of why courts were opened at night during the vote of no-confidence against him last month.
“Cases of missing persons, Baloch students are heard in this court. Do not spoil people’s confidence in courts,” the chief justice said, giving Rashid till tomorrow to submit his reply on whether he “trusts the court or not.” However, Sheikh Rashid expressed full confidence in the court.
Later, rejecting Sheikh Rashid’s application to stop Abbasi from working as SAPM, the IHC issued directives to PM Shehbaz to review Hanif’s appointment as SAPM.
Meanwhile, while hearing a plea of former information minister Fawad Chaudhry assailing the registration of blasphemy cases against PTI leaders on Monday, the IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah asked PTI chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan to submit a response whether or not he has confidence in the courts.
The IHC CJ refused to conduct the hearing, saying the counsel Faisal Chaudhry must first consult the party leadership whether they have trust on the court.
“The narrative that the Supreme Court and the high courts are compromised is still being spread,” Justice Minallah observed. “This court can work for 24 hours a day,” he said, asking if the petitioner had any objection with the court that the court may look into.
He added that the petitioners had till tomorrow (Tuesday) to provide a response. “If you don’t trust the court, let me know,” the IHC CJ stated.