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PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench on Tuesday dismissed the provincial government’s appeal against the acquittal of Tehreek Nifaz-i-Shariat Mohammadi chief Maulana Sufi Mohammad and his 19 associates by an anti-terrorism court in an over two-decades-old case of the killing of PPP MPA, sedition and waging of war against the state.

Justice Ikramullah Khan and Justice Mohammad Ghazanfar Khan rejected the plea over the case’s withdrawal by the last ANP government.

Additional advocate general Mujahid Ali confirmed to the court that the case was withdrawn by the last government after the government and TNSM made a deal for Swat peace but was restored in 2009.

The FIR of the occurrence was registered in the Mingora police station on Nov 3, 1994, when armed supporters of Sufi Mohammad had taken over different government installations in Swat and other parts of Malakand region after they began a violent campaign for the enforcement of Shariah in the region.

PHC rejects plea over case’s withdrawal by last govt

The complainant in the FIR was Ayub Khan, who claimed that MPA Badiuz Zaman and others were made hostage by the armed supporters of Sufi Mohammad before being held in wrongful confinement at a hotel.

He also alleged that after altercation took place between the two groups, the armed supporters opened fire at the MPA killing him and Atabar Khan instantly.

The case was registered under Pakistan Penal Code’s different sections, including 302 (intentional murder), 121-A (waging war against Pakistan), 122 (collecting arms against Pakistan), 124-A (sedition), 341 (wrongful restraint), 148b (rioting) and 149 (unlawful assembly).

Nobody appeared for Sufi Mohammad before the bench.

Ayaz Khan, lawyer for some of the accused, contended that the ATC Swat had acquitted Sufi Mohammad and his supporters including his clients in the case on Aug 11, 2012.

He added that the government had filed the appeal without any legal justification.

The lawyer said while summons were regularly served on his clients in the case and that they appeared before the court but a summons was not issued to Sufi Mohammad.

He said several cases registered against Sufi Mohammad and his supporters including the present one were withdrawn by the provincial government on Apr 21, 2008, when the government had entered into a peace deal with the TNSM in which the latter had disassociated itself from attacks on security forces and government installations and assured the government of help it in the restoration of its writ in the region.

The lawyer said on Sept 8, 2009, the government had rescinded its earlier order and restored the closed (withdrawn) cases.

He said once the cases were closed, the same couldn’t be revived and on that ground, the ATC, which functioned as the camp court at the Peshawar Central Prison had acquitted Sufi Mohammad and others.

Additional advocate general Mujahid Ali didn’t press the appeal and conceded that the case was earlier withdrawn by the government.

The appeal was jointly filed by KP home department, director general prosecution and a deputy director (legal) prosecution.

In the appeal, the government had contended that the ATC had observed that the case could not be re-opened for putting the accused to face trial and resultantly the accused were let free.

The government had contended that by not entertaining the case sent to it for trial, the judge ATC had failed to exercise a jurisdiction and to perform a duty which under the law and constitution he was bound to perform.

Sufi Mohammad was arrested by the security agencies in 2009 and had faced trial in several cases.

In most cases, he was acquitted but remained behind bars for over eight years.

Finally, he was granted bail by the high court on Jan 8, 2018, in two of the cases pending against him.

Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2018