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Pakistan appoints first female Supreme Court judge

By Esther Kalu

Pakistan has appointed a 55-years old Justice, Ayesha Malik, as the first female Supreme Court judge in 75 years of the Muslim-majority nation’s history.

The move for Malik’s appointment was said to have been divisive as the nine-member body that was to confirm her appointment turned down her elevation to the top court last year, but on a repeat vote was also close – divided five votes to four – according to sources familiar with the proceedings.

Confirming the appointment on Thursday, a legislator of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf and parliamentary secretary for law, Maleeka Bokhari, said that a commission that decides on the promotion of judges voted to make Malik the first female judge on the Supreme Court in the 75 years since the South Asian country’s independence.

She expressed her happiness, saying the move was a commendable one as it was merited by Malik based on her competence and prowess as a justice.

“An important and defining moment in our country as a brilliant lawyer; decorated judge has become Pakistan’s first female SC judge,” she said.

“To shattering glass ceilings,” she added.

According to an Islamabad-based lawyer and vocal rights activist, the major issue was not that there was ever a question mark on Malik’s competence or the fact that she is a good judge,however, the question mark was and remained on the Judicial Commission of Pakistan’s arbitrary and non-transparent decision making and the process, adding that the judge’s gender was only exploited.

‘A number of lawyers bodies have threatened to strike and boycott court proceedings over the appointment after they say their calls for the drawing up of fixed criteria for the nomination of Supreme Court judges were ignored.” she said.

As gathered, many lawyers and even judges, in the forum and outside, were said to have opposed the move because they say the appointment was made in contravention of seniority lists without any set selection criteria, adding that Malik was not among the top three most senior judges of the lower court from which she was elevated.

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