24 February 2024
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The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday has directed Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to review the appointment of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Hanif Abbasi as his special aid.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah heard the petition of Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed against the appointment of Abbasi as a special assistant to the prime minister (SAPM).

In the petition filed through his counsel Sajeel Sheryar Swati, Rashid had questioned the federal government’s appointment of Hanif Abbasi, stating that the office of the SAPM required the selection of “people possessing high virtues and strong moral fibre…to these important public offices.”

Rashid had contended that Abbasi, “a person with a criminal conviction, particularly a conviction for dealing in narcotics which is an offence involving ‘moral turpitude’,” is unsuitable to hold such a position.

The petition had argued that the SAPM’s office was one of the few public offices recognised and identified by the provisions of Article 260 of the Constitution. It had furthered that while the PML-N leader was convicted and sentenced for the offences registered against him, the Lahore High Court’s (LHC) suspension of the sentence did not forgive his conviction.

Read: Imran to face the music for ‘anti-state speech’, says Shehbaz

During the hearing earlier today, IHC CJ Minallah called Sheikh Rashid on the rostrum and said that the manner in which allegations are levelled against the courts in the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) jalsas is regrettable.

“Do you and your ally party PTI have confidence in the Islamabad High Court?” he asked.

“Very important and big cases are pending in the court. If you do not trust the courts, then we can send the case to another court,” IHC CJ added.

Justice Minallah stated that Rashid should also ask the PTI chairman, “if he does not have confidence in the judiciary then we will not hear the case.”

He maintained that questions on the judiciary are raised every day in political rallies. “Political statements are made that courts open at the behest of someone,” Minallah said, referring to PTI Chief Imran Khan’s repeated questioning of why courts were opened at night during the vote of no-confidence against him last month.

“Cases of missing persons, Baloch students are heard in this court. Do not spoil people’s confidence in courts,” the chief justice said, giving Rashid till tomorrow to submit his reply on whether he “trusts the court or not.”

Expressing full confidence in the court, Rashid said that he has come knowingly.

Subsequently, the court directed PM Shehbaz to review Hanif’s appointment as SAPM.

Justice Minallah, however, rejected the request to stop the PML-N leader from working as the special assistant and issued notices to the concerned parties, including Hanif Abbasi and the secretary cabinet division.

Abdul Gh Lone