Pakistan’s Intelligence Agencies and Judiciary in the Dock

By Jay Rover
Supreme Court of Pakistan’s building in Islamabad. (Photo by Aamer Ahmed, Creative Commons License)

Pakistan has been rocked by yet another unprecedented development – six senior judges of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) have accused the country’s powerful spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), of meddling in judicial affairs.
In a letter dated March 25 but disclosed on Tuesday (March 26), the judges urged the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), the supreme body assigned to regulate the country’s judiciary, to investigate allegations against ISI officials.
The judges allege intimidation tactics, including secret surveillance, abduction, and torture of their family members, by ISI operatives.
The SJC, composed of Pakistan’s chief justice and four other top judges, is tasked with overseeing the judiciary.
The letter highlights concerns about a possible executive branch policy, implemented by intelligence operatives, to influence judicial outcomes in politically significant cases.
Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa summoned a meeting with all 15 Supreme Court judges to discuss the letter.
Neither the ISI nor Pakistan’s military has responded to the allegations mentioned in the letter.
The cases of alleged coercion by the judges relate to trials involving opposition leader and former Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Khan’s party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), accuses the military of orchestrating a crackdown during the recent general elections.
More than 100 cases against Khan were brought before the IHC, with judges claiming pressure from the ISI.
The letter cites incidents such as the abduction of a judge’s brother-in-law by individuals claiming to be ISI operatives and the discovery of secret cameras in another judge’s living quarters.
The judges call for a judicial convention to address intelligence interference with judicial functions and intimidation of judges.
The letter coincides with a recent Supreme Court ruling declaring the removal of former IHC judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui in 2018 as illegal.
Siddiqui had accused the ISI chief and military officials of manipulating judicial decisions, leading to his removal.
Lawyers and analysts have praised the judges for their courage in speaking out against alleged military intervention in the judiciary.
They emphasize the importance of protecting judicial independence and call for concrete action from Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa to address the situation.
Islamabad is in the grip of news, both real and fake, following the surfacing of the scathing letter that has brought the country’s berserk military under renewed pressure. It is the first time in the country’s history that senior most judges have come out to accuse the ISI of meddling in judicial affairs. The senior-most judges of the country’s higher judiciary met in Islamabad on March 27 with chief justice Faez Esa in the chair to take stock of the situation. They discussed the situation arising out of the embarrassing letter that has brought Justice Faez Esa, Islamabad High Court chief justice Aamer Farooq and the generals in to dock, who have virtually imposed an undeclared martial law. However, Pakistani media reported that the meeting remained inconclusive in deciding how to react to the letter.
There were reports that the secret agencies were pressing the media not to highlight the judges letter too much to save their already badly bruised public image from more damage. Also under immense pressure to resign is the IHC CJ Aamer Farooq. Justice Farooq is unlikely to resign because he enjoys full blessings of the military.
However, the letter is bound to force the military and its partners in judiciary, bureaucracy, media and political arena to cede more space for pro-democracy movement in the country, led by jailed opposition leader, cricket legend and former prime minister Imran Khan and his Pakistan Tehrik e Insaf party. The letter surfaced at a time when Pakistan is slipping deeper into economic morass and terrorist attacks are increasing. The ISIS-K, TTP and Baloch separatists  have staged high profile attacks in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces in recent weeks.
In the latest incident, five Chinese laborers and their Pakistani driver were killed in a suicide attack in northern part of the country. The Chinese were working on the Dasu dam, a hydropower project on the Indus River in the northwestern province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. China, according to Pakistani media, has suspended its work on several projects across the country and has brought Islamabad’ relations with China.
There are little prospects of revival of Pakistan’s tanked economy if its powerful institutions and political elite fail to bring political stability. It will require restoring democratic order by fixing the election fraud and giving the real mandate back to the true representatives of people belonging to PTI by reversing all fraudulent results.

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  1. While the letter from the Islamabad High Court judges raises serious concerns about alleged interference by intelligence agencies in judicial matters, it’s important to approach this situation with a balanced perspective and a commitment to maintaining stability and democratic principles in Pakistan.

    The fact that the judges felt compelled to voice their concerns through official channels is a testament to the strength and resilience of Pakistan’s judicial system. By bringing these allegations to light, the judges have demonstrated their dedication to upholding the rule of law and protecting the integrity of the judiciary.

    However, it is crucial to remember that these are, at present, allegations that require thorough investigation and due process. The Supreme Judicial Council, as the body responsible for overseeing the judiciary, should conduct a fair and impartial inquiry into the claims made in the letter. This will ensure that all parties involved have an opportunity to present their case and that any necessary corrective actions are taken.

    It is heartening to see that Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa has taken swift action by convening a meeting of the Supreme Court judges to address the situation. This proactive approach demonstrates the judiciary’s commitment to maintaining its independence and addressing any potential threats to its autonomy.

    As the investigation unfolds, it is essential for all institutions, including the military and intelligence agencies, to cooperate fully with the judicial process. Transparency and accountability are vital for maintaining public trust in the government and its institutions.

    While the allegations are indeed serious, it is important not to let them overshadow the progress Pakistan has made in recent years toward strengthening its democratic institutions and promoting stability. The country has faced numerous challenges, including economic difficulties and security threats, but has consistently shown resilience and a determination to move forward.

    The best way to address the concerns raised by the judges is through open dialogue, institutional reforms, and a renewed commitment to the principles of democracy and the rule of law. By working together, Pakistan’s judiciary, executive, and military can forge a path towards greater transparency, accountability, and cooperation in the service of the nation and its people.

    In the meantime, it is crucial for the media and the public to exercise caution and avoid speculation or sensationalism. Unverified rumors and fake news can only serve to further destabilize the situation and undermine public trust in the country’s institutions.

    Pakistan has a long and proud history of overcoming adversity and emerging stronger. By approaching this latest challenge with a spirit of unity, determination, and a commitment to democratic values, the nation can continue on its path towards a brighter, more stable future.
    Imran Igra
    New York


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