Top Pakistani law officials may be sacked


Islamabad : Pakistan's law secretary and attorney general may be sacked, media reports said Tuesday, a day after the Supreme Court slammed the government and imposed a fine for making "scandalous" claims against suspended chief justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry.

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The government moved swiftly to clear the Supreme Court complex and the houses of judges of intelligence personnel and bugging devices, the reports said.

An 11-judge bench headed by Justice Khalilur Rahman Ramday had Monday said that counter-affidavits filed by the government against Chaudhry were "scandalous and vexatious" and aimed at maligning judges in general.

Also, security officials were barred from attending court proceedings and the court ordered that its premises be checked for bugging devices.

Speculation is rife over the likely fallout of the court's strictures.

Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz might be made "a scapegoat", The News said, adding that Law Secretary Justice (Retd) Mansur Ahmed and Attorney General Makhdoom Ali Khan may be replaced.

"Law Secretary Justice (Retd) Mansur Ahmed, who was issued a show-cause notice by the full court on Monday, is likely to be the first in the firing line. Even his friendship with the powerful decision-makers may not save him this time," the newspaper said.

The report said that Mansur Ahmed became law secretary against the rules that bar the appointment of a judge. He was formerly a judge in the Lahore High Court.

Attorney General Khan had been given "enough time to chew" on the proposed government move on the basis of available records, the newspaper said. Khan took weeks before he gave his final nod.

The court had also blasted the government's counsel Malik Qayyum Monday. However, he tendered his unconditional apology, which the full court accepted.

The supposed government strategists, authors of the affidavits and those who planned the strategy to fight Chaudhry include Chief of Staff to the President Lt-Gen (Retd) Hamid Javaid.

However, the newspaper said that he is not considered "a legal mind" and may escape the axe because of his proximity to the president.

Pakistan has been in the midst of nationwide protests after Musharraf suspended Chaudhry March 9 on the ground that he misused his office to promote his son, Arsalan Iftikhar.