Pakistan’s sacked chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry has declined a Saudi exile offer to resolve the simmering judicial and political crisis in the country, reports IslamOnline.net.
“On behalf of the Pakistani government, the Saudi ambassador [Ali S Awadh Asseri] offered justice Chaudhry that if he agrees to voluntarily retire, the government is ready to reinstate the sacked judges, except Justice Khalil ur Rehman Ramday, whom it considers the second main character of the judicial crisis,” a source privy to the President House told the portal.
Family sources confirmed that the ambassador offered Chaudhry to stay in Saudi Arabia after his retirement. “Saying thank you, he told the ambassador he could not go abroad in the present crisis,” they said.
“This is for the first time in the history when there is a coup against judiciary instead of a government,” the strong-willed ousted chief justice told the envoy. “The time has come when the people of Pakistan should decide whether they want rule of law or the rule of violators (of law).”
Chaudhry also turned down an offer to perform hajj as a state guest in a bid to quench the growing anti-Musharraf movement in the country. “How can I leave my country at this critical juncture?”
Ambassador Asseri was the first person allowed to meet Chaudhry who has been under house arrest since President Pervez Musharraf declared emergency on November 3. At least judges of the supreme and high courts have since been forcibly retired by the government and placed under virtual house arrest.
Sources privy to the President House said the government thinks that the presence of Chaudhry will be a permanent threat to Musharraf regime, that is why it wants him to leave the country. “General Musharraf wants him to stay away from the country in any case, otherwise he will be a permanent threat to his regime,” he added.
Justice Chaudhry has come to symbolise the new drive for democracy and the independence of the judiciary in Pakistan. He is held at high esteem by the lawyers community, leading the campaign against the imposition of emergency and suspension of the constitution. Chaudhry remains, in the eyes of the main opposition parties, the legitimate top judge of Pakistan.