ISLAMABAD: Top officials from Pakistan’s two premier spy agencies, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Military Intelligence (MI), met with Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial and two other apex court judges on Monday, who are hearing a case related to the May 14 election in Punjab.
According to sources, the meeting between the judges and the ISI and MI chiefs lasts more than three hours in the CJP’s chamber. According to them, the intelligence official briefed the judges on the country’s security issues.
On April 4, a three-judge bench led by the chief justice and comprised of Justice Munib Akhtar and Justice Ijazul Ahsan declared the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) decision to postpone the election for the Punjab Assembly as “unconstitutional” and ordered the province to hold elections on May 14.
The ECP postponed the provincial assembly election in the politically vital Punjab province by more than five months on March 22, citing a deteriorating security situation in the cash-strapped country.
On April 14, the same bench directed the State Bank of Pakistan to release Rs21 billion to the ECP for the conduct of elections in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and to send a “appropriate communication” to the finance ministry by Monday (April 17).
During an earlier hearing, the defence secretary requested an in-camera briefing on security issues. However, the bench had requested that he first submit a classified report.
According to a lawyer, the deadline for informing the ECP about a security plan as directed by the Supreme Court was April 17. “It appears that these officials directly shared the reasons why army troops could not be made available for security duty on May 14 with the judges.”
It is unclear whether the Supreme Court was pleased with the briefing. However, if the judges are convinced that the security situation in the country does not allow for the deployment of troops to ensure security during the Punjab election, the briefing will have far-reaching implications.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has called a meeting of his coalition partners to discuss the current political situation today [Tuesday]. The premier will reassure his allies about the Supreme Court cases involving elections and the powers of the CJP.