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6 Pak HC judges, in letter to top court council, accuse ISI of intimidation

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ISLAMABAD: Six Pakistani high court judges have accused the country’s powerful spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, of interference in judicial affairs and using “intimidatory” tactics such as secret surveillance and even abduction and torture of their family members to influence the outcomes of cases of interest to them.
In a startling letter dated March 25, six of a total of eight Islamabad high court judges urged the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), the country’s judicial watchdog, to look into the allegations against ISI officials.The SJC comprises Pakistan’s Chief Justice, Qazi Faez Isa, and four other top judges — two each from the supreme court and high courts.
“We believe it is imperative to inquire into and determine whether there exists a continuing policy on part of the executive branch of the state, implemented by intelligence operatives who report to the executive branch, to intimidate judges, under threat of coercion or blackmail, to engineer judicial outcomes in politically consequential matters,” the letter read.
Instances of alleged intimidation and coercion of judges in “politically consequential” cases apparently relate to those against jailed former prime minister Imran Khan.
The letter listed seven alleged instances of interference and intimidation by intelligence officials. It pointed out that when two out of three judges on the bench hearing the plea to disqualify Imran Khan for concealing his alleged daughter opined that the case was not maintainable, considerable pressure was brought to bear on them by the spy agency through friends and relatives. The situation got so stressful that one of the judges had to be admitted to hospital due to high blood pressure, the letter said.
Neither the ISI and Pakistan’s military nor the law ministry have responded to the letter yet.
The letter also referred to the abduction of the brother-in-law of an Islamabad HC judge by armed men who claimed to be ISI operatives. The victim was “administered electric shocks” and “forced to record a video” making false allegations, apparently against the judge.
The letter said that last year, during routine maintenance, the Islamabad HC judge had found that his official residence was bugged with spy cameras concealed in his drawing room and bedroom.
When data from the surveillance equipment was recovered, it showed that “private videos of the judge and his family members” were stored. “The matter was brought to the attention of the Islamabad HC chief justice. There has been no determination of who installed the equipment and who is to be held accountable…,” the letter added.
“We, therefore, request that a judicial convention be called to consider the matter of interference of intelligence operatives with judicial functions and/or intimidation of judges in a manner that undermines the independence of the judiciary,” said their letter.
Amid calls from various quarters, Chief Justice Faez Isa called a full court meeting of the Supreme Court judges on Wednesday to discuss the letter.

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