LAHORE - Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has said that the country at present is passing through testing times wherein restoration of peoples confidence in the institution of the judiciary is a must. The situation erupting over the last few months highlights the need to make the judicial system sustainable and for that end popular faith in the system is a prerequisite. The bench and the bar, therefore, must play the role to bring the people closer to the institution by revising their trust in it, the chief justice said at a reception hosted in his and other judges honour by the Punjab Bar Council to celebrate restoration of November 2, 2007 judiciary on Saturday. Chief Justice Lahore High Court Khawaja Muhammad Sharif, former presidents of Supreme Court Bar Association Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan and Hamid Khan and Vice Chairman Frontier Bar Association Ahmad Farooq also spoke on the occasion. Earlier, Vice Chairman Punjab Bar Council Asif Ali Malik delivered the welcoming speech. The Supreme Court Judges including Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday, Justice Ch Ijaz Ahmad, Justice Tasadduq Hussain Jillani, Justice MA Shahid Siddiqui, Justice Muhammad Sair Ali and Justice Ghulam Rabbani along with Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, Justice Umar Atta Bandial, and Justice Iqbal Hameedur Rahman from Lahore High Court besides the presidents and secretaries of the bar associations at all tiers from Punjab and other parts of the country were also present at the function. Justice Iftikhar highlighted the plight of the Malakand and Swat people and asked the nation, with the lawyers in particular, to come forward to help them generously for they had also stood shoulder to shoulder with them in the movement for the rule of law. The chief justice also warned corrupt judicial officers, as there would be zero tolerance for such conduct in future, saying, Anyone bringing disgrace to the judiciary would not be tolerated for a minute, adding, the progress of the country is closely linked with an independent judiciary which reveals itself through its independent decisions. He said corrupt elements are eroding the confidence of the people in the institution and to tackle the problem we must move forward to eradicate such practices although certain quarters can try to create hurdles. Justice Chaudhry reiterated his commitment to separate judiciary from the executive in terms of Article 175 of the Constitution and Sharaf Fridi case of 1993 and said, No obstacle or expediency would be observed while separating. He expressed his commitment to uphold rule of law, supremacy of the Constitution and the independence of Judiciary. He said as many as 119 judicial officers have so far been repatriated from the executive to ensure separation of the two organs. He made it clear that he had no personal interest in the process, which was being executed purely in the national interest. In the same breath Justice Chaudhry lauded Justice Khawaja Muhammad Sharif for not accepting acting Governorship, which inspired others to follow the suite. Returning back to the Malakand situation, he said it did not surface in a day and was a product of the last 60 years negligence with judiciary being one of the factors. Yet we need not to lose heart as I firmly believe that the way lawyers with the support of masses overcame the judicial crisis, they would once again prove their worth to address the Malakand and Swat situation also. He said helping the people of Swat is not a charity but their right and they must not be let feel alone and left in a lurch in the present hour of trial. Congratulating the lawyers on the successful movement, the CJP said now the bench and the bar must ensure inexpensive and speedy justice to the 170 million people who are pinning great hopes in them. He counted police and judicial officers as main factors in delayed justice and asked the lawyers not to let the situation become aggravated on their part. Delay in dispensing justice creates disappointment among the people, but the bar and bench have to join their hands to improve the state of affairs, he added. We have to give hope to the people in the institution for which they supported the lawyers for two years in their movement. He said during the movement lawyers rendered unprecedented sacrifices, which amazed the whole world. He mentioned the tragic incident on May 5, 2007 in Sahiwal and said he has asked the chief justice LHC to probe the matter to pin point the culprits responsible for burning dozens of lawyers that evening. He said 2009 has been declared as the year of the young lawyers who, he added, would prove that they stand by their commitment to ensure justice to the masses. He was confident about their talent and potential, he added. On his turn, Chief Justice LHC Khawaja Muhammad Sharif at the outset of his address thanked Allah Almighty for not being one of the PCO judges, who were under scathing criticism by the lawyers present in the hall. He said lawyers commitment with the purpose of independent judiciary was a big inspiration to make him more resolute on his stand against accepting PCO oath. Justice Sharif frankly admitted that the office he was occupying now was possible due to the efforts and unflinching stand taken by Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Chaudhry who withstood all pressures against the appointing him as the chief justice LHC. He said during his tenure, he would always remain obedient to the CJP who, he said, was a committed, honest and dedicated individual working as long as 18 hours a day. The people like Chief Justice Chaudhry could change the destiny of a nation, he remarked. During the event, the bench, bar and lawyers pledged their individual contributions amounting to over Rs 3 million for the Swat affectees.