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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
07ISLAMABAD1490
2007-04-04 15:00:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Islamabad
Cable title:  

CHIEF JUSTICE UPDATE: THE COURTROOM AND THE STREET

Tags:   ASEC  PGOV  PHUM  PREL  PK 
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P 041500Z APR 07
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L ISLAMABAD 001490 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/04/2017
TAGS: ASEC PGOV PHUM PREL PK
SUBJECT: CHIEF JUSTICE UPDATE: THE COURTROOM AND THE STREET

REF: ISLAMABAD 01466

Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Peter Bodde, Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)



1. (C) The bulk of the April 3 session of the Supreme
Judicial Council proceedings against non-functioning Chief
Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry involved a debate over the in
camera nature of the Council. (The Chief Justice wants
public proceedings; the government wants them closed.) In a
conversation with Embassy staff on April 4, one of Chaudhry's
lawyers predicted that Chaudhry and the government might
eventually reach a compromise that would make some sessions
of the Council public, others in camera. As reported reftel,
the Council adjourned until April 13.



2. (C) Breathless reporting in some Western news outlets
notwithstanding, the atmosphere outside the courtroom April 3
was generally peaceful and, according to several Embassy
observers, "fair-like." Many protesters brought lunches and
posed in groups for the cameras. A few hundred Pakistan
Muslim League-Nawaz and People's Party Parliamentarian
members shook hands before shouting at one another, while the
better-represented religious parties (about 1,500 in number)
made good use of a platform and megaphones. (Note: The
Jama'at Islami party dominated protests in all major cities
yesterday, reflecting their relative advantage in
organizational discipline over the mainstream parties. End
Note.) A notable exception to the calm, however, occurred
when protesting lawyers roughed up two attorneys for the
government, Khalid Ranjha and Arif Chaudhry, as they left the
Supreme Court. Ranjha, in fact, withdrew from the
government's legal team after the incident, leaving the
government searching for equally prominent representation.
(Note: The Attorney General, himself a fine lawyer, is
technically the lead attorney for the government but is not
handling the day-to-day legal work. End Note.)



3. (C) Comment: Barring an unforeseen outbreak in serious
street violence, the peak in this controversy seems to have
passed. Acting Chief Justice Bhagwandas' steady and credible
stewardship of the Supreme Judicial Council, coupled with
this complicated legal issue's lack of resonance among the
general public, has pushed this story away from the front of
the news cycle in Pakistan. Indeed, Prime Minister Aziz'
5-point roadmap for the South Asian Association for Regional
Cooperation received as much press coverage on April 4 as the
Chief Justice issue. End Comment.

BODDE