The Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry said on Saturday that denying the supremacy of law and breaching the Constitution have misled the people.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry was addressing on the second day of International Conference on ‘Peace through Law’, organized by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) here at a local hotel. An Indian lawyers’ delegation is also in the city to participate in the conference.

The Chief Justice said as long as the constitution is adhered to, conflicting interests do not explode but when the constitution is either abolished or simply side-lined, conflicts become hard to resolve.

Mr Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry said Pakistan today is facing a situation where peace seems a distant dream. He said we are paying a price to atone for sins of the past because for long periods of time, we did not treat the constitution with the sanctity that it deserves. The sorry events of 1971 are not unconnected to the subversions suffered by the Constitutions of 1956 and 1962. Similarly, he said, the sectarian terrorism, extremism and ethnic violence that became so rampant in the last decade is not entirely unconnected to the outright subversion of the 1973 Constitution in 1977, and again 1999.

He said the cumulative effect of constitutional deviations and weak rule of law in the past has resulted into the present day militant and terrorist tendencies in certain regions of our country. There has occurred mushroom growth of militancy, which subsequently challenged the writ of the State. He said ultimately, the state had to respond and counter these militant organizations. The response however has to be within the framework of the Constitution. He said if constitution and law were strictly followed in letter and spirit, there would have been no room for resorting to terrorism and all the outstanding issues could have been resolved.

He expected that the combination of factors like independent and assertive judiciary, an effective media presence and an assertive civil society is bound to produce good leadership in the country which commands the real respect of the people. The leadership should not only be aware of the challenges faced by the people but should have the capacity and the inclination to take on these challenges and provide workable solutions.

The Chief Justice said that Islam is the religion of peace and the very first verse of the Holy Quran states that Almighty Allah is the most merciful and benevolent.

He further said that the last Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (SAWW) is the greatest symbol of peace and historic examples are present where Islamic institutions and leaders solved the national issues.

He stressed on the importance of peace among the nations, states and institutions and said that respecting national and international laws guarantees peace.

The Chief Justice said that the rule of law snubs terrorism and conflict and today, the society is facing terrorism, extremism and intolerance. He said that it is important to affiliate law with peace and in order to implement both, understanding and cooperation among the states is mandatory.

He urged that the state should take action against extremism according to the law.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry further said that law demands sacrifices and if the Constitution along with the law is implemented, then it leaves no room for terrorism. He said that deviating from the law and Constitution misled us and only those nations flourish where the Constitution is respected and followed.

He also said that independent media, judiciary and civil society are pertinent for a good leadership. Media is a keen observer and it gave the awareness to the people regarding the rule of law. He further said that India and Pakistan are facing the same kind of challenges.

He said it is unfortunate that the humankind has got fragmented into religious and ethnic sects and groups without understanding the true spirit of such religious thought and philosophy. The deep rooted rifts have given rise to terrorism, bloodshed extra-judicial killings, human rights violations and other evils that are perpetuating extremism and radicalism and affecting the global peace. He said the best way to address these issues is through bridging the gaps among individuals and States by common understanding and sharing of knowledge about law, peace and religion and exploring the factors that can help in achieving the objective of global peace.

In his welcome address, SCBA president Muhammad Yaseen Azad said that there was a need to build confidence between people of India and Pakistan. He said people had been deprived of their fundamental rights in this region however, the constitutions of both countries protected fundamental rights of their citizens.

He said law education should be made more effective, urging both governments to make cordial relations more helpful for their masses.

The Supreme Court Bar Association of India (SCBAP) president said that peace in the region could be brought only through law. Justice was possible only due to judges and lawyers of any country, he added.

He said the culture of Pakistani and Indian citizens was the same while living standard also had resembled. He said no citizen in both countries wanted war or fight because it did not help anyone. He said both governments should also make visa process easy for their masses because it was much complicated. He also praised the hospitality of Pakistanis.

He said law education should be made more effective, urging both governments to make cordial relations more helpful for their masses. The Supreme Court Bar Association of India (SCBAP) president said that peace in the region could be brought only through law. Justice was possible only due to judges and lawyers of any country, he added.

He said the culture of Pakistani and Indian citizens was the same while living standard also had resembled. He said no citizen in both countries wanted war or fight because it did not help anyone. He said both governments should also make visa process easy for their masses because it was much complicated. He also praised the hospitality of Pakistanis.