Islamabad, Jan 19 (EFE).- The Pakistani parliament on Wednesday approved the appointment of Ayesha Malik as a Supreme Court judge, which would make her the first-ever woman in the conservative country to reach the top court, a historic nomination which has triggered protests by bar associations.
“Today the parliamentary committee for appointment of superior judiciary approved the appointment of Justice Ayesha Malik as a supreme court judge with consensus,” the parliamentary secretary for law, Maleeka Bukhari, told EFE.
Malik had been nominated for the position by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed last year, but in September the Pakistan judicial commission could not reach a consensus over promoting her to the supreme court, which led to the appointment being postponed.
“But there is no hiccup now. She is all set to become a supreme court judge,” Bukhari clarified.
After the green light from the parliament, the summary of the meeting will be sent to the justice ministry which will then sent them “to the prime minister office, from where it will go to the president, who will sign her appointment,” the secretary said.
Malik’s appointment could also put her in line to become the first ever woman chief justice of the country during the final years of her career before she retires in 2031, as she would be the senior-most judge in the court by 2030.
However, her promotion has faced stiff opposition on the grounds that it was carried out by violating the seniority principle for nominated supreme court justices.
The jurist, who had been working in the Lahore High Court, was fourth in the seniority order of the court, and has been promoted superseeding three other judges who should have been before her in line for promotion, critics have argued.
The bar council of the supreme court had even held a protest against Malik’s candidature, while other bar associations had threatened to boycott court proceedings in protest.
On the other hand, the appointment has generated hope in activists and rights groups in Pakistan advocating a more just and equitable system for women and girls in a deeply conservative society.
Anita Zaidi, the president of gender equality at the nonprofit Gates Foundation, said it was a historic moment for Pakistani girls who now know that they could occupy a space on the table in the highest judicial office.
Pakistan had so far been the only South Asian country to never have had a woman judge in the supreme court, while women account for just 4 percent of all judges in the higher judiciary of the country, according to nonprofit Human Rights Watch. EFE