Pakistan rejects ‘misleading’ US commentary on judiciary

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Tuesday rejected as “factually incorrect” and “misleading” a report of the State Department of the United States raising concerns on the judicial independence and purportedly improper influence from the other branches of government on its working.

The report, titled “2021 Investment Climate Statements“, while evaluating the domestic investment climate, claimed the “judiciary is influenced by the government and other stakeholders”.

“The lower judiciary is influenced by the executive branch and seen as lacking competence and fairness. It currently faces a significant backlog of unresolved cases,” it claimed.

“Theoretically, Pakistan’s judicial system operates independently of the executive branch.  However, the reality is different, as the military wields significant influence over the judicial branch.

As a result, there are doubts concerning the competence, fairness, and reliability of Pakistan’s judicial system. However, fear of contempt of court proceedings inhibit businesses and the public generally from reporting on perceived weaknesses of the judicial process.”

Responding to media queries concerning the report, the Foreign Office said: “We take strong exception to the gratuitous and unwarranted comments made in the report on Pakistan’s judicial system.”

“The judiciary in Pakistan is independent and the Courts are functioning in accordance with the Constitution and laws of the country. The allegations to the contrary are firmly denied as factually incorrect and misleading,” its spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said.

“As a vibrant democracy, the government of Pakistan firmly believes in the separation of powers between the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of the state,” he said.

The spokesperson said there was no question of any coercion or pressure on the judiciary.

“The baseless assertions made in the report are contradicted by innumerable decisions by Pakistani courts at all levels that meet the highest standards of judicial independence,” he said.

Chaudhri observed while the report acknowledged the progress made and reforms undertaken by the government in improving the business and investment climate despite extremely difficult circumstances due to the coronavirus crisis, it “speculated on alleged shortcomings in Pakistan’s regulatory framework and based its conclusions on unverifiable sources”.

He said mutually beneficial cooperation in the sectors of the economy, trade and investment with the international community, including the US, was one of the key priorities of the government.

We will continue to take steps to optimally realise our geo-economic potential, he added.

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