I was at the oath-taking ceremony of the new Chief Justice of Pakistan, despite my inclination to stay away from such ceremonies. I made this exception not because Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja is family but because he is someone I have come to love and respect over decades for his impeccable integrity, professional acumen and a heart that beats for the less-privileged. He is generally recognized for bringing these valuable qualities to his office. So why is an influential segment of our metropolitan elite inventing excuses and lies to malign him?

This is nothing new, of course. Ever since his appointment as a Supreme Court judge, a persistent misinformation campaign has been unleashed against him, slinging mud in his direction on one false pretext or another. In the national mainstream media, the malicious propaganda to discredit him might seem sporadic. But in the social media and in elitist social gatherings, it has been non-stop. These days it seems to be reaching a crescendo. Obviously, the privileged players behind the campaign can’t stomach the idea of him being the Chief Justice, even though it is only for three weeks.

So what is it about the honorable Chief Justice that upsets them so? Are they motivated by principles of justice and love for our country? Is it a case of disagreement on the role of judiciary and interpretation of the Constitution? I wish it were. An honest debate on such matters is actually healthy. But take a closer look at the campaign and it is not hard to see that it has nothing to do with such higher principles. It is a multi-pronged attack on the person of the Chief Justice that employs fabricated fairy-tales of corruption on one hand and misleading academic jugglery on the other.

The fairy-tales are comical and infuriating at the same time. Comical because they are so outlandish and infuriating because they are designed to tarnish the public image of an honorable man who is undoubtedly a role model for the nation. A man who has no interest in availing the extra perks and privileges of his office and shirks the pomp and protocol that come with it, who sees his high office as a duty entrusted upon him by God, who strives to bring justice to the wretched of our land, should be applauded rather than defamed.

His refusal to accept the frilly trappings that he is officially entitled to does not come as a surprise to me. In fact, I would have been surprised if he had accepted them because it would have been so out-of-character for him. This is not the first plot of land that he has refused. He did it as a judge of the Lahore High Court as well. He lived simply as a judge of the Supreme Court, and he continues to do so as the Chief Justice of Pakistan. The family home that has been splashed around as a proof of his luxurious living and corruption is actually simple considering the family inheritance and his successful career as a lawyer.

Over the years, I came to know of his many generous acts of kindness to the needy members of the family and his domestic staff, but never from him. It is from other relatives that one gets to hear about them, such is his grace in giving and his respect for the dignity of those he helps. So naturally, it is more than a bit disturbing for us when fantastic accusations are hurled at a man like him. In the age of social media and news channels, nobody stops to verify the facts or to evaluate the credentials of the accuser before spreading the defamatory words.

Less obvious but equally devious are the personal attacks on the honorable Chief Justice launched in the guise of academic debate. Though judgments speak louder than anything else, not many bother to read them. Through misleading interpretations of his judgments and by misquoting his remarks, a number of so-called legal experts and media celebrities are busy crafting a negative narrative regarding his judicial legacy. A detailed study of his judgments should correct that perspective, and I’m confident that one day his valuable contributions to jurisprudence and the welfare of Pakistanis will be duly recognized. A closer scrutiny of those building the narrative is more pertinent here.

Clearly, these are no serious jurists grappling with principles of justice and other academic matters. Many of them are lawyers with a personal grudge, or their mouthpieces. Just do a couple of background checks. How many of them were denied special treatment that they consider their right? How many of them failed to get undue concessions for their super-rich and super-corrupt clients? How many of them thought that they could get what they want by throwing their false stature around? The personal dimension is hard to miss.

A recent case in point is an article printed on the business pages (yes, an article regarding a purely judicial matter printed on the business pages) of this newspaper just over a week ago. Written by someone who is considered a big name in the legal profession and is also a senator, the article took pot-shots at Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja while claiming to discuss the topic of recusal. Was it just a coincidence that he wrote right at the time when his lawyer son was being taken to task in Justice Khawaja’s court for making false statements to pave the way for his recusal? Of course, he forgot to tell his readers anything about it.

I thought I would just be patient for three more weeks and not write about the matter. I believe lies have a short life and truth finally prevails. Besides, due to my personal relationship, it was a tricky subject to broach. I decided to write this article not because disinformation is being spread about an upright and loving member of the family. I decided to do it because the ascension of Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja as the Chief Justice of Pakistan is a reason for the entire nation to celebrate and I couldn’t stand to sit back and watch some unworthy people driven by personal motives spoil the celebration.