Man behind defamatory banners had links with ISI, court told

Published March 20, 2015
Justice Chaudhry wondered why intelligence agencies would affix defamatory banners.— Chughtai/File
Justice Chaudhry wondered why intelligence agencies would affix defamatory banners.— Chughtai/File

ISLAMABAD: Inspector General Police Islamabad Tahir Alam claimed before the Supreme Court on Thursday that the main accused — behind the display of defamatory banners that contained slanderous allegations against an apex court judge — also had links with the country’s premier intelligence agency.

“Though the majority of the contacts in the cellphone of the main accused and freelance journalist Mohammad Rashid are fellow journalists, one of the contacts is [of] an ISI office in Islamabad,” the IGP explained before a three-judge bench, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal.

The court had taken up the case of the banners that had popped up in the Red Zone area and different parts of the capital on the night of May 22, 2014.

Supreme Court censures CEO of television channel

Sponsored by an unknown organisation identified only as ‘Farzand-i-Islam’, the banners levelled serious allegations against Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja.

Take a look: SC decides to indict TV channel’s chief executive, anchor

On Nov 24 last year, Aabpara Station House Officer (SHO) Khalid Awan had informed the Supreme Court that police had arrested Mohammad Rashid and investigated 28 contacts from his mobile phone. Rashid himself had confessed before the magistrate that he had the banners prepared, the officer had said.

On Thursday, the IGP told the court that police had asked the Inter-Services Intelligence, through the defence ministry, about the nature of its contacts with the accused. They have replied verbally, he said, adding that the police were not satisfied with the response and have sought further clarification in writing.

Justice Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry, a member of the bench, wondered why intelligence agencies would affix defamatory banners against judges and why they would harbour ill-will towards Supreme Court judges. People often use the name of intelligence agencies to grind their own axes and many have alleged that certain television anchors are also working for them, he observed.

However, the court was not amused and observed that despite clear directions to track down the culprits, the court had noticed hesitation on part of the Islamabad police to take decisions. Police officers are also not exercising their creative faculties to find out who could possibly be behind all of this.

All the assurances given so far turned out to be hollow, the court regretted, adding that police needed more time to reach the person behind the offence. But the court only reluctantly assented to do so, observing that their track record did not permit the court to pin hopes on police assurances.

At the outset of the proceedings, the court had hinted that it might like to engage private detectives in case police failed to locate the offenders.

The case will be taken up on April 8.

ARY NEWS CASE: The same bench, conducting contempt proceedings against Salman Iqbal and Mubasher Lucman of ARY News, censured Mr Iqbal for changing his counsel Anwar Mansoor, who has proceeded abroad for a three-week vacation.

The court had taken up the contempt case against the two men for airing the talk show ‘Khara Sach’ on ARY News on May 29, 2014. In the show, anchorperson Lucman had levelled a number of allegations against Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja regarding his relationship with Mir Shakeelur Rehman, the owner of Geo TV, as well as making slanderous claims about property owned by his wife.

Justice Ijaz Chaudhry reprimanded Mr Iqbal for continuing to air programmes against the judiciary and verbally ordered the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) to monitor every programme aired by the channel and report any content defamatory, derogatory or slanderous to the judiciary to the Supreme Court registrar.

Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2015

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