THE intellectually mature and “mood savvy” news media in Pakistan has historically made it a point NOT to tread on the superior courts’ toes, but in the same breath called these out whenever criticism was found necessary. And it will suffice to say that both sides of this coin will continue to shine!
The news media has always had faith in the top courts but has sometimes suffered the feeling of having been let down, the newest gauntlet being the idea of charging Pakistan’s top newspaper’s editors for reporting on a significant event – the Chief Judge Rana Shamim affidavit case — significant to the course politics and the delivery of justice might take.
But let’s remember that personalities make institutions, as the latter have no meaning without the former, which leads us to Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Athar Minalla’s endeavours for upholding freedoms even before he made Judge.
Against this backdrop, it leaves one incredulous that now the IHC seems to be prepared to call out reportage on the fact that former chief judge Rana Shamim did indeed make an affidavit regarding former chief justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar’s alleged discouragement of relief to the scions of the Sharif family, purportedly to pave the way for Imran Khan to gain political ground.
A question that comes to mind is, does the court really want the news media to “put a sock in it”? If so, why? All that was reported was the fact Rana Shamim accepted that he’d indeed made the affidavit. Whether he signed the legal document in the Sharifs’ presence or not has no meaning under the circumstances, the circumstances illustrating so far that Mr. Shamim wasn’t coerced.
If the court determines, however, that the paper was advertently trying to influence proceedings of the case, that would undoubtedly mar the newspaper’s standing. If on the other hand it turned out that citizens’ right to know what’s tipping Themis’ scales, is being whittled down, muzzling the media and stopping it from reporting on what the people can expect from the courts they look up to might seem to some to be tantamount to trying to put out the fire with gasoline.
Or, this IHC can continue to be seen as benevolent to the intellectual welfare of those who set great store by it! One might suggest it would be in the order of things not to open a new can of worms in the new year!