ISLAMABAD: The deputy attorney general finally submitted to the Islamabad High Court on Tuesday the much-awaited report of the Senator Raja Zafarul Haq-led committee relating to an inquiry into alteration in the declaration on the finality of the Prophet (peace be upon him).

Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of the IHC had been seeking this report since November last year.

After receiving the report, the court decided to hear the matter on a day-to-day basis.

The committee was formed by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz president Nawaz Sharif to fix responsibility for the introduction of a controversial amendment to the Khatm-i-Nubuwat declaration for electoral candidates.

After receiving report on amendment to Khatm-i-Nubuwat declaration, court decides to hear matter on day-to-day basis

The matter was taken up during the hearing of identical petitions filed by local clerics and lawyers against alteration in the declaration.

Deputy Attorney General Arshad Meh­mood Kayani submitted the report to the court in a sealed envelope. He informed the court that the report was a privileged document, but the government had decided to produce it before the court after a judicial order.

Though Justice Siddiqui in his order mentioned that the report would be kept secret and sealed, the contents of the report have been under discussion in the media since November last year.

It reportedly stated that several amendments were proposed during the proceedings of the Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice, but none related to the Khatm-i-Nubuwat affirmation.

It was only after the bill was sent by the standing committee to the upper house of parliament that Hafiz Hamdullah, a Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Senator, objected to the change in the language of the solemn affirmation, the report pointed out.

According to the report, after several meetings with various people concerned one person admitted that it was his primary responsibility to see that the draft did not contain anything controversial, but somehow he felt that he could not perform his duty despite his legal acumen, experience and command of the language.

Members of the committee said they later read a statement of JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman in a newspaper, saying that all people involved in the exercise were collectively responsible for not doing their duty during the debate on the affidavits.

The change in the language of the candidates’ declaration form through a controversial amendment to the Elections Act 2017 had provoked religious parties which alleged that this had intentionally been made to fulfil the western agenda.

Though parliament rectified the mistake, the religious parties sought resignation of the then federal law minister, Zahid Hamid, and staged a sit-in at the Faizabad Interchange in Islamabad. Due to the pressure from the religious parties, Mr Hamid had finally resigned.

At a previous hearing, Justice Siddiqui had directed Mr Kayani to submit the report on Feb 20.

When the judge asked about the report on Tuesday’s morning, Mr Kayani informed the court that due to some miscommunication, he was unable to submit the report. He subsequently sought time till Wednesday.

“This is an entirely lame excuse to frustrate the court’s order,” Justice Siddiqui remarked, ordering the deputy attorney general to submit the report by 1pm.

Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2018