PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench on Thursday ordered the quashing of a case registered by Swabi police last year against several leaders of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), including its head and two MNAs, accusing them of multiple offences of defiling national flag, instigating mutiny and criticising state institutions.
Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth and Justice Musarrat Hilali accepted a petition filed by PTM member Dr Mushtaq, who was also named in the impugned FIR, contending that nothing objectionable had taken place in the public meeting held in Swabi on Aug 12, 2018, but even then, a case was registered by police against several PTM leaders, including Manzoor Pashteen and MNAs Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar.
The bench pronounced a short order for the quashing of the FIR after petitioner’s counsel Ayaz Khan and additional advocate general Qaiser Ali Shah finished arguments.
The FIR was registered under different sections of Pakistan Penal Code, including sections 123-B (defiling or unauthorised removal of the National Flag, etc), 131 (abetting mutiny, or attempting to seduce a soldier, sailor or airman from his duty), 147 (rioting), 149 (unlawful assembly), 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot), 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) and 34 (common intention).
Initially, the FIR charged 10 members of the movement but later, through a supplementary statement, several other members were also named in it. They included Manzoor Pashteen, Mohsin Dawar, Ali Wazir, pediatric surgeon Dr Said Alam Mehsud, social activist Gulalai Ismail, lawyer Fazal Khan and others.
Lawyer Ayaz Khan said the FIR was based on rumours and not facts; the petitioner and other PTM members had exercised their fundamental rights of freedom of expression, and nothing objectionable had taken place in the public meeting.
He said PTM was a peaceful movement and that none of the people attending the Swabi public meeting was armed.
The lawyer said certain elements claiming to be members of Pakistan Zindabad Tehreek tried to provoke peaceful PTM workers by trying to disrupt their public meeting but the movement’s members remained peaceful.
He added that no incident of removal of national flag had taken place in that meeting but the government lodged a fake case against the PTM leaders.
The lawyer said the concocted case led to the arrest of several PTM members and therefore, some of them had to get pre-arrest bail from the relevant court.
He added that the demands made by leaders of the movement in the public meeting were in line with the parameters set by the Constitution.
The lawyer said the FIR was registered on basis of mala fide intentions as none of the allegations leveled in it against his clients and others were based on facts.
The AAG said the PTM members had delivered provocative speeches besides tearing apart the national flag.
He said the PTM members had also used abusive language against state institutions and that there was sufficient evidence on record to connect the accused with the commission of the offence. The AAG said the accused in the case had tried to provoke the people against the State and its institutions.
Published in Dawn, May 10th, 2019