Political motives behind sit-in, ISI tells Supreme Court

Published November 25, 2017
ISLAMABAD: Activists of the Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah shout slogans on a blocked flyover during the sit-in on Friday.—AFP
ISLAMABAD: Activists of the Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah shout slogans on a blocked flyover during the sit-in on Friday.—AFP

ISLAMABAD: The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), in its report submitted to the Supreme Court, has stated that the protesters blocking the Faizabad interchange have a political agenda to fulfil.

“The Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah is determined to exploit the situation and gain political mileage to gain support for the next general elections,” said a six-page order issued by a two-judge bench consisting of Justice Mushir Alam and Justice Qazi Faez Isa.

The bench had taken suo motu notice of the disturbance to public life due to the ongoing sit-in at Faizabad earlier this week.

In its order, the apex court observed that force and violence had no place in Islam, and that the word ‘Islam’ itself meant peace. “But unfortunately the protesters are disregarding the commands contained in the Holy Quran and are preventing Muslims to live their lives in accordance with the injunctions of Islam,” the order noted.

Apex court says protesting leaders are undermining ‘glory of Islam’

Whatever the protesters’ agenda may be, “which the ISI states to be political”, the order said, “they cannot be permitted to disrupt the lives of the citizens and to expose them to harm and even death, as in the fatality of [a] child”, whose ambulance was blocked from reaching the hospital in the early days of the sit-in.

The court noted that the protesters were directed to abide by the stipulations of the Holy Quran, emulate the exemplary conduct of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) and to abide by the Constitution of Pakistan and the law, in the expectation that better sense may still prevail, the order said.

“We cannot be unmindful when the protesters attempt to denigrate the glory of Islam by their wilful disregard of the injunctions stipulate in the Holy Quran. Sadly, even the avoidable death of a child has failed to soften the hearts of the protesters, let alone to atone for it,” the court regretted.

Terming the protesters’ nonchalance about the court’s earlier order unfortunate, the bench said that while freedom of speech and expression is a fundamental right, the same provision stipulates that such speech and expression cannot be used to undermine the “glory of Islam” or to incite an offence or to commit contempt of the court.

The intelligence report stated: “To keep the participants of the sit-in engaged and charged, the leadership of the protesters resorted to delivering provocative speeches” which were aired through social media.

The Supreme Court also expressed its disappointment that the ISI report only provided the names of the organisations and persons who were at the forefront of the illegal occupation of Faizabad, without details such as their profession, place of work or where they obtained their funding from, etc.

In separate reports, Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf and the Islamabad inspector general also gave details of the various violations committed by the protesters.

The reports stated that the protesters did not obtain the required permission from the district administration before staging the sit-in, nor did they obey the orders of the district administration when it asked the protesting leaders to relocate to the designated Democracy Park and Speech Corner in Shakarparian, since Section 144 was in force in the capital city.

The court observed that from all accounts it appeared that the protesters were well rested, well-fed, bathed and clothed in clean clothes. “They also have access to broadcast paraphernalia, while assembled in the middle of public highways, where there are no such facilities. It therefore appears that they are going about freely under the noses of the police and the other law enforcement agencies.”

In its order, the court ordered the ISI, IB and Islamabad police to submit fresh reports, adding that secret or sensitive information should be submitted under sealed cover. The government has also been directed to provide details of the expenditure incurred on account of the sit-in.

Published in Dawn, November 25th, 2017

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