NEW YORK - Former chief justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has rejected allegations about any involvement in electoral rigging, saying he had worked too hard to strengthen judiciary’s role in protecting the people’s rights.
Talking to Pakistani newsmen and later addressing a community meeting, he also said that judiciary had closed the door on martial law and any adventurer must take a lesson from the country-wide lawyers movement that led to the restoration of judges. “We should look forward, not backwards, he added.
The community meeting was organized at a local restaurant by a body of Pakistani lawyers which is headed by Ramzan Rana.
Responding to newsmen’s question about his involvement in electoral rigging as claimed by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan, Chaudhry said, “These allegations are absolutely baseless.”
Elaborating, he said, the election process was the sole duty of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), which was responsible for the appointment of returning officers.
Asked why he did not act on Imran Khan’s complaint about electoral rigging in some constituencies, Chaudhry said Article 225 gave that responsibility to election tribunals. But he said that election tribunal should have taken quicker decision.
The former chief justice also denied that he brought any pressure on Fakhruddin G Ibrahim, as stated by the former chief election commissioner, saying he had nothing to do with the elections.
Chaudhry strongly condemned the murder of Rashid Rahman, the slain human rights lawyer, and appealed the government to conduct a thorough investigation into the case. He lauded the services of Raman as a defender of people’s rights.
About entering politics, he said at this particular time he was working on establishing a think-tank.