NEW YORK - While Pakistan’s judiciary is independent, it has stepped into areas normally reserved for the government, raising concerns over the balance of power, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) said in a new report.“Parliament and Government are weak, which leads to the Supreme Court filling the gap by intervening in matters germane to the administration,” the ICJ, a Geneva-based non-government organization of judges and lawyers, said in the report. “This occurs to the extent that the Supreme Court even challenges constitutional amendments and intervenes to strengthen its own, and particularly the power of the Chief Justice as far as the appointment of judges is concerned. A concern in respect of the balance of powers thereby arises.” The report was released this month following a field trip to Pakistan last autumn. “(We) obtained a complex picture of the administration of justice in Pakistan towards the end of 2011, the report said. Some of its conclusions are:—While many of the problems created by military dictatorship appear to have been, or are, being meaningfully addressed, particularly with regard to the judiciary, there are still occasional tensions between the elected government and the military establishment which might lead to dramatic developments. By and large it can be said that the judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.–There are, however, certain difficulties connected with the general problems of the State, and we wish to emphasize two of them:a) The administration of justice cannot function properly when its personnel – including advocates – are not motivated by the desire to contribute to the common good by administering justice, but abuse their position for personal benefit. This is quite obvious.b) It appears, as the case of Justice Pervez Ali Shah demonstrates, that there are violent currents of religious militancy in the State. These must be brought under control otherwise the Rule of Law cannot be solidly established and maintained.— There are still problems with the nomination of judges. There are strong political tensions which lead to the result that not always the candidate best qualified is promoted. The proceedings are not fully transparent.— The so-called suo motu proceedings are generally being used as a strong instrument to support the rule of law and protect fundamental rights. This is commendable as a matter of principle and as long as the proceedings are used restrictively and on the basis of transparent criteria. We have not seen evidence of abuse in their practical application.— Yet, some of these same suo motu proceedings give rise to concern in respect of their administration. There seems to be an element of arbitrariness in the decision to apply them, and when they are inappropriately applied they may upset the balance of power and to interfere with the ordinary course of justice. We came to the view that they are used rather excessively.Among the ICJ’s recommendations are: — The Government of Pakistan is encouraged to continue and strengthen its efforts to fight corruption wherever it occurs, particularly in connection with the administration of justice.— The Governments of Pakistan and of all the provincial governments should significantly increase the funds allocated to the judiciary in order to improve the equipment of courts, particularly District Courts, and to further raise the salaries of judges (and other personnel of the courts, as the case may be).— In the appointment and promotion of judges the influence of the Bar ought to be increased.— All authorities involved in the appointment and promotion of judges should make it a principle that persons of highest competency, integrity and independence are appointed; other important considerations, such as achieving gender balance should also be integrated.— A code of ethics for lawyers, consistent with protecting the independence of legal profession and the role of lawyers, at all levels ought to be elaborated and adopted, (where one does not already exist) and rigorously implemented, primarily by the Bar Councils and, if need be, by the courts.— The Supreme Court should establish precise rules as to the composition and allocation of cases to Chambers.