The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has used social media campaigns to have an effect on the higher courts over the years. This approach used to work, but it doesn’t seem to be working as well now that Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa is in charge.

A Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) supporter waves the party flag at a rally. PHOTO: FILE

In particular, since 2016, the PTI has put pressure on courts to help it reach its political goals, and most of the time, it has been successful in tipping the scales in its favor. But, despite the party’s persistent and intense social media campaigns and online trolling lately, CJP Isa doesn’t seem willing to step in and help the party, which is different from the past when the PTI was able to get court support.

At the same time, it looks like the PTI is asking CJP Isa for help to stop strong people from plotting against the party after what happened on May 9. But, unlike in the past, the PTI’s attempts to sway the courts have been limited by the current chief justice’s leadership.

Even though CJP Isa stepped in and forced the government to say when the general elections would be held.
It’s important to note that CJP Isa recently stepped in and forced the government to announce the date of the general elections. He is also set on making sure the general elections happen on February 8. He was in charge of a group that chose to file petitions against putting civilians on trial in military courts in front of the same judges who were already hearing the case.

Soon, the rules for cases within the court against military court decisions should be set. In the meantime, senior lawyer Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan put in a request to stop people from being made to disappear. The goal of this petition is to help the leaders of the PTI. But the SC office sent the plea back by making objections.

Two days ago, Imran Khan sent a letter to CJP Qazi Faez Isa asking him to look into claims that PTI leaders are being politically victimized. After this, Mushtaq Ahmed, the private secretary to the chief justice, replied and asked some questions about Imran’s letter. In a press release, he did say that CJP Justice Qazi Faez Isa is well aware of his constitutional duties and will not be swayed or favor anyone. He also said that CJP Justice Qazi Faez Isa would “by the grace of the Almighty continue to fulfill his duties and abide by the oath of his office.”

A lot of lawyers think that the reaction to Imran Khan’s letter was rude and made it easier for PTI supporters to insult CJP Isa on social media. Salahuddin Ahmed, former president of the Sindh High Court Bar Association, responded to the PTI supporters’ campaign by asking why CJP Isa should take notice of a letter just because it was written by a political party head. He also pointed out that Isa has a legal team that can file a petition if he thinks it’s necessary.

He also said that Imran Khan and his followers should stop counting on the Supreme Court to always help them. During the time that Umar Ata Bandial was CJP, the PTI brought more than a dozen petitions about different issues. Their plan kept working, and most of their cases were put on the calendar for review. It looks like CJP Isa isn’t giving the PTI the same aid that was given to them when his successor was in charge.

‘Successes’ on social media for PTI

In October 2016, Imran Khan said that he was going to put a “lockdown” on Islamabad to put pressure on the government to quickly end the Panamagate case. The case was heard by a bigger bench when the PTI started its long march. Anwar Zaheer Jamali was a top judge at the time.On November 1, 2016, the top court stopped the PML-N and the PTI from having a political showdown by ordering a court investigation into the Panamagate affair.

The bench said that they wanted all political groups, including the PTI, to change their minds. They also said that everyone should be calm. Asif Saeed Khosa, who was CJP at the time, said, “Politics will go on, so let people have some peace now.”

After a while, the PTI ended the “lockdown” plan and joined the talks. In December 2016, when Chief Justice Jamali offered to set up an inquiry committee to look into the Panamagate case, Naeem Bukhari, an attorney for the PTI, turned it down. After that, the case was put off until 15 days before Jamali’s retirement as chief justice.

Because he had ties to the PML-N in the past, this led to a campaign of hate against Supreme Court judges, especially the new Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar. Nisar, the former chief justice, put together a bigger bench without himself to start the case again.

Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, a member of the bench, asked the PTI lawyer what kind of justice his client wanted in January 2017. He was talking about the campaign against the judges. In April 2017, a split decision on Panamagate was made public. Two of the judges said Nawaz Sharif could no longer be a lawmaker.

However, three judges on the bigger bench sent the case to a joint investigation team (JIT) to look into it further. An online movement was started against the judges who did not remove Nawaz and set up a JIT to look into the matter further.

When the JIT report came out with its findings against the Sharif family, PML-N followers began to campaign against the judges, which hurt their party’s goals. In cases of contempt, three senators were removed from their jobs. Several party members were jailed for using bad language toward Nisar, who used to be CJP.

People who have seen the case say that it is well known that some SC judges were biased against the PML-N. They didn’t do what was right; instead, they went after revenge, which hurt their reputation with the people.
The experts stress that even though CJP Isa is running for office, he shouldn’t follow those judges and shouldn’t give the impression that he has personal grudges against any party or person.

It is up to CJP Isa to do his job without fear or favor. They said that while he is in office, he must make sure that no one is harmed in any court processes.