KARACHI - Sind government headed by Chief Minister Side Murad Ali Shah and Opposition Leader Rana Anwar agreed on the name of Justice retd Maqbool Baqar as the head of the interim government in Sindh province.
Governor Sindh Kamran Tessori approved the appointment a day after he said that his name is among the top priority and he had approached leadership of MQM-Pakistan, Pakistan Muslim League Functional and Jamaat-i-Isalmi for a consensus on his name. A handout issued from Chief Minister House just minutes before the three-day consultation process was about to over read that the Chief Minister and opposition leader consulted over multiple names from August 12 to 14 and agreed over the name of honourable Justice (retd) Maqbool Baqar, who had served as the chief justice of the Sindh High Court and a judge at Supreme Court of Pakistan.
Recalling his tenure at the Sindh High Court, Senior a senior journalist Tahir Siddiqui, who had extensively covered the courts proceedings, said that he was a man of high integrity and always followed strictly law and constitution in judicial and administrative matters.
“He was always a great help when it came to gathering information from the court files. He specifically directed his court staff to let journalists go through the files so that they would do accurate reporting.” In June 2013, Justice Baqar survived an assassination near the high court in the early morning when the vehicle carrying him was hit by an IED which resulted in the death of nine people. The judge survived the attack and had to undergo multiple treatments after having shrapnel injuries in upper parts of the body, especially the head.
“He gave several judgments against militants and terrorists as a high court judge,” Tahir Siddiqui said, adding that he however refused to budge to the pressure and later served as the chief justice of the Sindh High Court. One of his notable judgments came in the case of the Baldia factory fire, which resulted in the largest compensation to the victims of the arson incident. Justice Baqar has remained a critic of the judicial system and on multiple occasions highlighted flaws in the judiciary.
Even in his speech at the farewell reference for him at the Supreme Court, he said that exclusion of certain judges from the hearing of sensitive cases on account of their independent and impartial views has an adverse effect on the impartiality of judges while also tarnishing the public perception about the independence and integrity of the judiciary. This practice also tends to affect the morale of judges who are consigned to less significant benches and fosters feelings of estrangement amongst members of the bench. After his retirement, he even publicly spoke about corruption in the judiciary.
Participating in a session of the Karachi Literature Festival, he said corruption persisted in the judiciary and the induction of judges had not invariably been on merit as nepotism, favouritism and the sacrifice of merit factored in. Interim Caretaker Chief Minister-designate Justice (retd) Maqbool Baqar spoke to media on Monday, saying that his sole responsibility is assisting the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in holding free and fair polls in the province. “The election commission, not the caretaker government, will decide when the elections will take place and we are here to assist them,” he said. When asked if he’ll launch an accountability drive, he said this was not his agenda and he would try to serve the masses in the short span of time he’ll remain at the slot. “I will try to perform my duties in a truthful manner and will not allow anyone to indulge in corrupt practices,” he said. On a question regarding members of provincial caretaker government, he said that he would consult over the matter. “I’ll try to bring honest and wise people who care for people and want to do something good for them,” he said, adding that it was aimed at providing some relief to the masses.