At the symposium in Islamabad on Monday, the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) and the Prime Minister (PM) sat side by side and addressed the important issues facing the country today. The CJP emphasised the alarming issue of unbridled population growth, terming it the “most disastrous issue” for Pakistan. He lamented that the parliament had not done much in past years to counter this matter, saying that the judiciary can only do so much and the politicians need to stop boycotting parliament and start doing their duty of legislation. The PM took the stage to thank the CJP for raising awareness to the issue of dangerous population growth and, amidst jokes about how he was thankful he was not being presented in front of the courtroom, said that the government has formed task forces to address family planning.

The symposium is a good initiative; unbridled population growth was a topic many governments shied away from, and now that this initiative has been taken, many other groups have also started talking about the issue. We hope solutions for this issue go beyond lip service and awareness drives and translate into proactive measures and legislation.

However, this symposium, where the PM and the CJP were seen joking about not being presented in courtroom, does not reflect well when one considers that leaders of the opposition have been convicted or in jail. While addressing population control was a good step, it is not the initiative of the judiciary to take, nor is it in constitutional spirit for the Supreme Court to advise the parliament how to operate. The legal ethics of the CJP and PM interacting outside of court, when a case is pending against Khan’s Banigala premises, is also questionable. The apex judge knows the laws of legal procedure better than the rest of us and shouldn’t take actions which will open avenues of criticism on him.