–CJP says court will not tolerate nepotism on senior government positions
–Court snubs Zulfi Bukhari’s ‘arrogance’, says appointments on key posts must not be made on basis of friendship
LAHORE: The Supreme Court (SC) on Friday said nepotism at senior government positions is unacceptable and the prime minister “does not have unlimited powers”.
The court was hearing a petition pertaining to Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari’s appointment as prime minister’s special assistant on overseas Pakistanis and human resource development.
Bukhari, better known as Zulfi Bukhari, is a close aide and friend of Prime Minister Imran Khan and his appointment caused controversy among opposition circles. The petition filed by Mirza Moiz Baig and Adil Chattha, takes issue with the appointment due to Bukhari’s dual nationality and the ongoing National Accountability Bureau (NAB) investigation against him for owning offshore companies.
‘YOU ARE NOT A FRIEND OF THE COURT’:
As Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar heard the case at SC’s Lahore registry, he reprimanded Bukhari for his attitude.
“You should leave your arrogance at home. You may be someone’s friend but you are not a friend of the court,” the CJP said while addressing Bukhari.
He added that appointments should be made to cater to national interest and “not on the basis of friendships”.
In response, Bukhari’s defence counsel Aitzaz Ahsan argued that the prime minister has the authority to pick his special advisers.
However, not one to be appeased, the chief justice responded that the prime minister is a trustee of the people, hence, he cannot run matters according to his own will.
“We will decide whether matters are being run as per the constitution or not,” the CJP said.
‘APPOINTMENT WAS MADE PER RULES OF BUSINESS’:
The top judge then inquired as to the orders for Bukhari’s appointment, asking who had called for a summary in this regard.
His lawyer replied that he was not given a constitutional post as is he is not a member of the federal cabinet, but was appointed according to the rules of business.
“This post is better suited for an individual holding dual nationality, as a United Kingdom visa provides the person with mobility to run affairs smoothly,” Ahsan argued.
The CJP said that the court would not tolerate nepotism, saying a precedent was available in the case of Jahangir Khan Tareen.
“What is so special about Zulfi Bukhari? Has he been appointed because he is a friend of someone?” said the CJP, noting that this was an “important” case.
Bukhari told the court that he has a degree in Political Science.
“I have excellent relations with overseas Pakistanis and I am among the top 100 Muslims in the UK,” he claimed.
“I am also a property developer in the UK and I have access to overseas Pakistanis so I can bring business to Pakistan. People know me,” he asserted, responding to questions pertaining to his profession.
Justice Nisar questioned Bukhari if he had ever lived in Pakistan to which he replied that he studied in the county for five years until he turned 18. “Must have been a ‘mummy daddy’ school,” the judge replied.
The court then directed Aitzaz Ahsan to submit a report on Bukhari’s appointment as PM’s special assistant, seeking a detail of his credentials.
The hearing of the case was then adjourned until Dec 5.