LAHORE - Judges should be stripped of their power to make judicial officers’ appointments, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said in Lahore yesterday.

The powers to appoint judges should rest with parliament, he told a meeting of the Lahore High Court Bar Association. Under the current system, appointments to the superior judiciary are only confirmed after their approval by a judicial commission, headed by the chief justice of Pakistan, chief justices of high courts, bar council and bar association representatives.

“I urge you to give some thought whether independence of the judiciary is guaranteed by giving judges powers to appoint judges alone or it is best served when these powers are shared by the parliament, the president, the prime minister and the bar councils as well as bar associations,” said Bilawal, addressing Lahore’s leading lawyers.

He opined the prime minister and the president should have a role in judicial appointments, but, under the current system, they had no powers more than “a post office.”

The speech marked his first address to the Lahore High Court Bar Association and he used the occasion to criticise the judiciary over execution of his grandfather, former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

The judicial establishment was guilty of double standard, he said, mentioning the trial of the murder case against his grandfather and comparing it with the judiciary’s inaction over corruption under the current government.

The prime minister from Larkana was hanged on a judicial order, but why there was silence over the corruption of prime minister from Lahore,” he asked.

The mistakes made by politicians, establishment and members of the judiciary had weakened democracy from within, he said.

A number of politicians were forced into exile, political workers beaten and detained, but it was Pakistan People’s Party which always played an effective role in bolstering democracy, he said.

Though his mother, Benazir Bhutto, and Nawaz Sharif signed Charter of Democracy in 2006, democracy is still not being practiced, he claimed.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari was welcomed by LHCBA President Pir Masood Chishti, senior lawyers, PPP leaders, former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gillani, Senator Aitzaz Ahsan and former SCBA president Asma Jahangir.