At this mind-boggling and bizarre phase in the country’s history when the highest court in the land struggles to save its reputation from scandal inflicted by the absolutely criminal stupidity, if not something more grave, of one Dr Arsalan, Attorney-General Irfan Qadir took full advantage of the opportunity to deliver a spirited performance. Appearing before the Supreme Court on Thursday in the case questioning the Speaker’s ruling in not forwarding the Prime Minister’s disqualification reference to the Election Commission, he set aside all rules and principles of decency. His words were so unguarded, his questions of the court so impertinently and rudely phrased and last, but not least, his gesture to the honourable bench so base and vulgar, that he detracted all attention from the case that was being heard. As the chief law official of the country he was supposed to be particularly mindful of the decorum of the court, but he went to the extent of making vulgar gestures, which angered the lawyers present in the room. The rowdy behaviour obliged the bench to repeatedly call him to order, reminding him of his position. Ultimately, it had to call the police to control the situation. The lawyers also confronted the AG demanding of him not to play with the dignity of the court. Later, the legal fraternity staged protests pledging their resolve to stand behind the Chief Justice and the judiciary. Now estranged PPP’s former Law Minister Babar Awan told reporters that despite difference with the judges, he would defend the judiciary as an institution at all costs.
In the meantime, the Supreme Court also heard Arsalan Iftikhar’s case and issued a short order. It expressed the “expectation” that the AG would put into action the “machinery of the State” against Malik Riaz, his son-in-law Salman and certainly Dr Arsalan. The court observed that they all had the right to a transparent trial. The court ruled that Malik Riaz had tried to buy justice, but according to Islamic injunctions, those who take bribe and give bribe are equal sinners. Zahid Bokhari, the counsel of Riaz Malik, had pleaded that the court formed a commission or sent the case to an investigation agency. By doing so, however, the court has lobbed the ball into the government’s court, which is already proving only too happy to oblige. Chairman NAB has already issued a hasty statement saying the Arsalan case does not fall under NAB jurisdiction. It remains to be seen just what manner of investigation is conducted and whether the persons involved re-tried, or whether this matter is condemned to remain unresolved.