ISLAMABAD, June 8: On Friday at least one senior lawmaker of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party went so far as to say that Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry should resign to facilitate a free probe against his son in an alleged financial scam.
Former religious affairs minister Hamid Saeed Kazmi, who comes to attend the National Assembly in a police armoured car from Adiala Jail, near Islamabad, said the chief justice should resign so that he was seen to be doing what he had once advised Kazmi to do. And as he did so, he was cheered on by many of his party members who thumped their desks to indicate their support for his words.
Kazmi’s statement was perhaps the most outspoken comment in the parliament on the allegedly objectionable financial links of the chief justice’s son, Arsalan Chaudhry, with a local property tycoon since the chief justice, at the head of a three-judge bench, took up the case on Tuesday.
The chief justice withdrew from the bench on Thursday after chairing it on the first day of the hearing on his own initiative, or suo motu notice, in response to widespread reports that his son had received large funds, including expenses for foreign trips that were given to influence the court in pending cases against the Bahria Town firm of Malik Riaz Hussain.
But Mr Kazmi, a soft-spoken legislator from Rahimyar Khan, did not seem satisfied with the chief justice’s gesture on Thursday. The latter left the case to be heard by the two other judges of the bench.
Instead Mr Kazmi wanted a replication of his own example in the so-called `Haj scandal’ of 2010, which too was taken up by the apex court on a suo motu notice. The lawmaker, who attends the assembly on a special `production order’ by the speaker, wondered why he had been kept in jail, without bail, for one-and-a-half years `without any proof’ – of alleged corruption in arranging accommodation for Pakistani Hajis in Saudi Arabia – when questions were being raised about the chief justice’s son being blamed without any proof yet.
Mr Kazmi said the chief justice had once asked him in the court to quit as minister as his office could impede an impartial investigation, and added that “Today I am saying the same to him in his own words because (otherwise) nobody can dare speak out before him.”
And then, in his final remark addressed to the chief justice, he said: “The advice you granted me then I am presenting to you now.”
Mr Kazmi’s brief interjection was greeted by his party members with the only desk-thumping of the day when members of the Pakistan Muslim League-N continued a virtual boycott of the general debate on the new budget and only three other speeches from the ruling coalition were a low-key mix of both praise and criticism of the government before the house was adjourned for the weekend until 5pm on Monday.