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Who is backing Faizabad sit-in, asks SC judge

Updated November 24, 2017

ISLAMABAD: The Sup­reme Court hearing a case on disturbance of public life due to the ongoing sit-in at the Faizabad interchange regretted on Thursday that the life of believers in a Muslim country was being made difficult, and wondered how a situation like this would help glorify Islam.

“The protesters are undermining the state and its institutions,” Justice Qazi Faez Isa bemoaned, adding that the biggest crime in any society was fitna and fasad-fil-arz because it disturbed the social order.

But before adjourning the hearing to next Thursday, an apparently disturbed bench consisting of Justice Mushir Alam and Justice Isa ordered the presence of senior representatives of intelligence agencies in the court so that the officials could get first-hand information about the court proceedings instead of what was provided to them.

The court rejected reports furnished by the intelligence agencies, saying there had been no depth in them and that they mentioned only four names which had already appeared in the media. It said their performance was not up to the mark.

Apex court rejects reports furnished by intelligence agencies

Justice Isa said the court did not want any report based on media reports, adding that media persons would make better reports than this. The court, he said, wanted to see resolution of the matter, but “we do not see any resolve on part of the government to settle the situation”.

The Supreme Court had taken up the case on a suo motu notice of the chronic traffic congestion and roadblock due to the sit-in that entered the 17th day on Thursday and had sought a comprehensive report on behalf of the ministries of interior and defence as well as the Intelligence Bureau and the Inter-Services Intelligence.

While pointing towards Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf, Justice Isa inquired whether he saw any indication that the protesters would go back and whether any measures had been taken to halt the circulation of nasty and abusive messages from the protesters.

The court was at a loss to understand from where the protesters were getting facilitation like the provision of food, electricity supply to charge their megaphones and mobile phones and other services like chairs and why no serious effort had been made to prevent rallies from joining them regularly.

“We are not asking to spray bullets on them, but want to know whether any investigation was ever made to ascertain who were behind them, who were providing them the funds, on which accounts the money was coming, what was their livelihood and whether or not any foreign country was at their back. Even the cost for placing containers is being borne by the people when millions are being spent on intelligence agencies,” Justice Isa regretted, adding that what was the purpose of keeping them.

“This is not the Pakistan of unity, faith and discipline or constitutionalism,” he said, adding that this has to come back.

“We have forgotten Article 5 of the Constitution which demands loyalty to the state and obedience to the Constitution and law, and if we do not want to obey them then we should renounce the citizenship and leave Pakistan,” Justice Isa suggested.

The reports only stated that the Punjab government had been informed beforehand about the intentions of the protesters, Justice Mushir Alam observed.

The attorney general, however, explained that the government was showing utmost restraint so that there should not be any “balwa” (hooliganism), but hinted towards some positive headway in the coming days. “We do not want bloodshed in the holy month of Rabi-ul-Awwal,” Ashtar Ausaf said, adding that the federal government was trying its level best to resolve the situation through negotiations.

The concrete measures that had been taken by the government could be shared with the court but only in chambers, he said, but when the court asked him to furnish in writing, the AG requested the same should not be made part of the record. Even the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority had been asked to block the nasty messages on the social media, he said.

The court, however, was surprised when the AG informed it that the Nov 21 order of the Supreme Court on the sit-in had been sent to the protesters.

Islamabad Advocate General Mian Rauf, meanwhile, told the court that the capital administration had registered 18 cases against the protesters and arrested 169 of them. He regretted that an eight-year-old boy had lost his life because he could not reach hospital in time due to traffic congestion.

“Do you think this is something ordinary?” Justice Isa asked and observed that the protesters would go away the moment they understood what Islam had ordained by stating that the killing of one man was like murdering the entire humanity.

“Who is responsible for the death of the boy?” the judge asked and said he already had burdened with the soul of the minor.

The court highlighted how important the city like Rawalpindi was which housed strategic assets, including the GHQ, asking what would happen if the situation went worse.

The court was not happy with the filthy and abusive language being used by the protesters, but thanked them for hurling abuses against the judges. The court made it clear that it was not going to assume the responsibilities of the government, but only wanted to see the matter resolved.

Published in Dawn, November 24th, 2017