ISLAMABAD: A Pakistan Air Force (PAF) officer – who was allegedly detained after applying for premature retirement – has been charged for filing a petition before the Lahore High Court (LHC).
In response to the charges, Squadron Leader Akhtar Abbas has filed another petition with the Rawalpindi bench of the LHC, seeking contempt of court proceedings against the defence secretary and the air force, alleging that they were treating him as an offender for seeking a judicial remedy.
Mr Abbas had originally filed a petition in the LHC in April of this year after his request for early retirement was turned down by PAF authorities.
However, he was detained soon after filing this petition.
In the petition filed on April 18, Mr Abbas claimed that authorities had approved the early retirement requests of certain well-connected officers, but his request was rejected without any cogent reason.
In the petition, Mr Abbas states that he joined the PAF in 1998 and, under the rules, applied for an early retirement in June of last year.
The petitioner said his wife, who was a Pakistani-American, could not settle in Pakistan because of security issues and other concerns and had taken the couple’s only daughter back to the US about four years ago.
According to the charge-sheet attached with the fresh petition, Mr Abbas was being tried by a Field General Court Martial for various charges, including a charge under Section 65 of the PAF Act, entitled ‘An Act Prejudical To Good Order And Air Force Discipline’.
His crime is that he “while being in the service of PAF, filed a writ petition against the federation of Pakistan and chief of air staff in the LHC’s Rawalpindi bench”.
The charge-sheet also alleges that while in custody, on May 7, Mr Abbas advised another PAF officer, Squadron Leader Zubair Ahmed, to apply for early retirement.
For the charge of referring the avionics engineer from Kamra to a lawyer, Mr Abbas was charged under Section 37(e) of the PAF act, entitled ‘Endeavoring To Seduce A Person In The PAF From His Allegiance To The Government’.
After PAF authorities charged Mr Abbas for moving the court, his counsel, retired Brigadier Wasaf Khan Niazi – who is a former judge advocate general officer - filed the contempt petition, maintaining that the charge for filing a petition in the court was “not only illegal under Article 4 of the Constitution but also amounted to contempt of court within the meaning of Article 204 read with the Contempt of Court Ordinance 2004”.
The petition stated that Mr Abbas raised the objection both orally and in writing before the FGCM, but the court overruled the objection and proceeded to try the defendant.
The petition insists that, “it was for the high court alone to have decided whether the petition was maintainable or otherwise”.
The petition maintains that by charging an officer for filing a petition, “a message is being sent to the PAF … and the armed forces … that they have no fundamental rights/guarantees available to them under the Constitution”.
Published in Dawn, September 27th , 2014