The Supreme Court on Wednesday resumed hearing the suo motu case on disturbance to public life due to the Faizabad protests, observing that the sit-in staged by the Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLY) was an "attack on Muslims by Muslims".
A two-member bench of the apex court, comprising Justice Mushir Alam and Justice Qazi Faez Isa, sought details from the attorney general on the number of lives lost and the damage caused during the Faizabad protest — which had disrupted life in the twin cities for 20 days.
During Wednesday's hearing, the defence and interior ministries, Punjab government and Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) submitted their respective reports on the protest before the court.
Attorney General (AG) Ashtar Ausuf told the court that nine people in Punjab and three in Sindh lost their lives during the protests. 194 police officers were injured in Islamabad, said the attorney general, adding that no security official was killed during the protest but one lost his eye.
Justice Isa asked whether all those who were killed were Muslims.
"This was an attack on Muslims by Muslims," Justice Isa said as AG Ausuf told him hundreds of officers were injured in the protest. "It caused harm to the identity of Islam."
"This is not the first incident, but we hope it is the last one where an attempt is made to paralyse the state," Justice Isa said.
The court also questioned the employment status of TLY chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi, who was heading the protest. "What is his source of income and address?" Justice Isa asked. A representative of the ministry of defence told the bench that all the information was provided in the reports submitted.
When asked about the damages caused by the protest, the AG replied that an estimated damage of Rs139.5 million was incurred.
The bench, however, expressed its dissatisfaction with the reports submitted.
The court dismissed the report submitted by Pemra, saying that "the lengthy report contained nothing of value".
Justice Isa observed that the report does not answer the questions raised by the court and ordered Pemra to submit another report to satisfy the bench.
The Pemra chairman has the authority to take action against television channels, the bench noted.
The hearing was adjourned until February.
Daily life in Islamabad was disrupted for 20 days in November 2017 by protesters belonging to religious parties, including TLY, the Tehreek-i-Khatm-i-Nabuwwat, and the Sunni Tehreek Pakistan (ST).
The agitators believed that during the passage of Elections Act 2017, the Khatm-i-Nabuwwat oath was deliberately modified as part of a larger conspiracy. The amendment to the oath was deemed a 'clerical error' by the government and was subsequently rectified through an Act of Parliament.
The protesters had occupied the Faizabad Interchange which connects Rawalpindi and Islamabad through the Islamabad Expressway and Murree Road, both of which are the busiest roads in the twin cities.
The government had initiated several rounds of negotiations with the protesters, but failed each time.
Explore: How the Islamabad protests happened
The sit-in lasted nearly three weeks and culminated with the signing of an agreement — following a botched operation to end the protest by the government — that included former law minister Zahid Hamid's resignation.
The agreement, brokered by the army, was seen as a complete surrender by the state.