ISLAMABAD: The Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) on Saturday challenged the government’s decision of banning its volunteer group, Ansarul Islam, before the Islamabad High Court (IHC).
The federal government on Oct 24 authorised the provinces to take appropriate actions against Ansarul Islam, saying that it is capable of functioning as an “armed wing of the organisation”.
The JUI-F through its counsel, Kamran Murtaza, filed the petition before the IHC.
The petition said that “out of fear of the protest of petitioner party gaining momentum due to its genuine demands and grievances, the incumbent regime has actively started a vicious campaign against the petitioner party by using various methods to suppress the voices of petitioner party and to stop the protest/Azadi March from even starting”.
It questioned such government actions as using state institutions such as the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) to issue verbal instruction to media houses to completely ban transmission or reporting of speeches of JUI-F leaders and the government officials/office holders openly threatening the use of force to stop and disperse the protesters or trying to bring its leaders in to custody of the National Accountability Bureau under the garb of accountability.
The petition said that the government was also trying to spread panic in the public to stop them from participating in the JUI-F’s “Azadi March” by issuing a threat alert through the National Counter Terrorism Authority, claiming that there was a threat of attacks.
The petition said that no show-cause notice was issued to the petitioner or Ansarul Islam prior to issuance of “impugned notifications”, as such the right of hearing was denied.
According to the petition, the JUI-F is registered with the Election Commission of Pakistan and in the party’s constitution submitted to the Commission, Ansarul Islam is also mentioned.
The current usage of the Private Military Organisations (Abolition and Prohibition) Act, 1974 is a textbook example of how this legislation can be used as a tool to silence dissent and protests by any peaceful organisation with no relation to criminal or terrorist activities, it said.
Published in Dawn, October 27th, 2019