Perspectives on Pakistan
ICG calls for judicial reforms in Pakistan
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari told a joint session of parliament last month he was committed to wide-ranging constitutional reforms including surrendering the power of the president to dismiss elected governments — a power that many Pakistanis feel has brought much grief to the nation. He also pledged his faith in an independent judiciary and said all outstanding matters would be resolved in line with the constitution.
Those promises have slipped somewhat from public view in recent weeks, preoccupied as the nation and those with a stake in it are with the multiple security challenges and a looming economic meltdown.
But according to the International Crisis Group, the worsening violence has made it even more necessary that judicial reforms be carried out so that the country’s transition to civilian rule is strengthened after eight years of military rule.
In a report on reforming the judiciary, the influential Brussels-based think tank says the civilian government has an opportunity to reverse the tide of radicalism in Pakistan by restoring the rule of law and repealing discriminatory religious laws that it says restrict fundamental rights, fuel extremism and destabilize the country.
It lists measures such as the blasphemy law, anti-Ahmadi laws, Hudood Ordinances and Qisas (retribution) and Diyat (blood money) as part of the legacy of military rule that it says discriminate on the basis of religion and gender.
Here is the full report as a PDF file calling for the honouring of a pledge to repeal Article 58 -2 (b) which gives the president power to dismiss elected governments, and for the reinstatement of all deposed judges, including Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.