U.S. Department of State
Press Statement by James P. Rubin, Spokesman
Pakistan: Judges' Oath
The United States deplores General Musharraf's order that sitting judges sign loyalty oaths to his regime. In a midnight order on January 25, General Musharraf decreed that all higher court judges, including those on the Pakistan Supreme Court, must swear an oath the next morning committing themselves to upholding the Provisional Constitutional Order. This order was issued by General Musharraf when he took power in a military coup last October. The Chief Justice and five other Supreme Court justices who refused to swear to the oath have been forced to quit the bench. Other appeals courts judges have also refused to take the oath.
The government's move undermines the integrity and independence of the judiciary. By forcing judges to pledge to uphold the Order--which places Pakistan's Constitution in abeyance--General Musharraf has removed his actions from judicial review. The military-backed government can now act without facing such review. This is contrary to the path of restoration of civilian rule the General pledged to follow when he took power in October and his promise at that time to respect the Constitutional Order and human rights in Pakistan. This development reinforces the view we share with the international community that General Musharraf needs to make clear in a comprehensive fashion how he intends to return Pakistan to an elected government with a functioning legislature and an independent judiciary under a democratic Constitution.
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