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Chief Justice Bandial Stresses the Importance of Respect Amid Criticism

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Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial has responded to the ongoing criticism he has faced in relation to his pleasantries towards former Prime Minister Imran Khan. The ruling alliance, led by Shehbaz Sharif, has condemned Bandial’s intervention in Khan’s arrest, considering it inappropriate for a corruption accused to be greeted in such a friendly manner by the chief justice.

In an attempt to clarify his stance, Chief Justice Bandial addressed lawyer Asghar Sabzwari during a case hearing, saying, “Good to see you.” He explained that he has been criticized for greeting Imran Khan in the same manner, but he frequently uses this phrase as a gesture of respect. Bandial emphasized the importance of respect and courtesy for everyone, stating that these aspects are vital and add enjoyment to interactions.

The exchange between Chief Justice Bandial and PTI Chief Imran Khan has been widely discussed since Khan’s appearance before the top court following his arrest on corruption charges by paramilitary Rangers. The arrest sparked protests, with government buildings being set ablaze and accusations directed at the army for Khan’s downfall.

On May 11, a three-member bench led by Chief Justice Bandial directed the anti-graft agency to present Khan in court two days after his arrest. Khan appeared before the bench in Courtroom No. 1, and upon approaching the rostrum, he was greeted by the chief justice with the words “Good to see you.” The court subsequently declared Khan’s arrest from the Islamabad High Court premises as “invalid and unlawful,” providing him with “extraordinary” relief. The court also ordered NAB and the police to ensure foolproof security for the former prime minister until his appearance before the IHC in connection with his petition against NAB in the Al Qadir Trust case.

During a federal cabinet meeting chaired by the prime minister, the chief justice’s “interference” was condemned, and it was declared that he was guilty of misconduct and should be removed from office. Prime Minister Shehbaz criticized the perceived double standards of justice and expressed disapproval of the chief justice’s friendly greeting towards a corrupt accused, considering it a stain on the justice system.

Chief Justice Bandial’s response to the criticism highlights his belief in treating everyone with respect and courtesy. The controversy surrounding his exchange with Imran Khan continues to fuel tensions between the ruling alliance and the judiciary. The situation remains unresolved, with the ruling alliance considering options to pressure the chief justice to step down.

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