Justice Gulzar Ahmed took oath as Pakistan’s 27th Chief Justice on Saturday amid an ongoing political chaos that has gripped the nation over conviction of the former military ruler Gen. Pervez Musharraf in a high treason case earlier this week.
President Arif Alvi administered oath to the new Chief Justice at a ceremony at the President House in capital Islamabad, which was also attended by Prime Minister Imran Khan, Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, the air force and naval chiefs, as well as the cabinet members, state-run Pakistan Television reported.
Justice Ahmed, who has replaced his predecessor Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, will serve till February 21, 2022.
He has assumed the key post at a time when Khan’s government is grappling with rising tensions between the judiciary and the powerful army following the conviction of Musharraf.
A special court on Tuesday handed down death penalty to Musharraf with a 2-1 majority for imposing emergency in 2007, subverting the constitution, and putting the judges under house arrest in Nov. 2007 — a judgment that dismayed the army.
Remarks of Justice Waqar Ahmad about parading Musharraf’s body in a public square that “his corpse be dragged to the D-chowk square in capital Islamabad, and be hanged for three days,” annoyed the army and government, and the government announced to move to the supreme judicial council against the judge for making such remarks.
His remarks, although not exercisable as his two fellow judges disagreed with him about parading Musharraf’s body in a public square, drew a strong reaction from the army.
Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor, the director general of the army’s media wing Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), at a press conference earlier this week, termed the wording of the judgment, “a clear contravention of the Constitution, law, tradition and even humanity”.
“The army is not merely an institution, but it’s more like a family. We know how to defend the country, and the respect and honor of the institutions,” Ghafoor added.
This is the first time in Pakistan’s history that a military chief has been declared guilty of high treason and given a death sentence.
Musharraf is currently undergoing treatment for several health conditions, including cardiac problem.
His lawyer Salman Safdar vowed to challenge the verdict in the Supreme Court.
“Justice Gulzar has taken oath (as the Chief Justice) at a time when the situation is tense. I hope he would act for cohesion between the institutions,” Science and Technology Minister Fawad Chaudry said in a twitter post.