PM’s treason talk

Updated February 16, 2020


PRIME MINISTER Imran Khan has triggered another controversy by saying that JUI-F leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman should be charged for treason under Article 6 of the Constitution.

Speaking to journalists, the prime minister said that Maulana Fazlur Rehman had admitted that he had been given a signal to come to Islamabad to topple the government. He said he wanted to know who had given the maulana such a signal.

The maulana had ended his dharna last year saying that he had been given a guarantee that the government would be sent packing in 2020 and fresh elections would be held. The prime minister argued on Friday that this amounted to treason. The opposition has reacted strongly to his statement and the JUI-F leadership has dared the prime minister to charge their leader with treason.

It may all turn out to be a storm in a teacup. However the statement does raise some disturbing concerns about the line of thinking that prevails in government quarters.

The casual use of the word ‘treason’ and Article 6 — and all that it implies — undermines the gravity of the actual charge.

It is not meant to settle political scores and make life difficult for opponents and therefore when it is used for such a purpose, it demeans the actual intention.

It is ironic that the prime minister is accusing Maulana Fazlur Rehman of treason for his dharna when Mr Khan himself, along with his party, has staged a much longer protest in Islamabad in the past.

Standing on his container everyday for months on end, Mr Khan would call for the overthrow of the then government. The people who had gathered for the dharna attacked parliament and the PTV headquarters and attempted to storm Prime Minister House till they were stopped by the law-enforcement agencies.

It is therefore rather surprising that he chooses to ignore these events and accuses the maulana of treason when the JUI-F leader camped in an open ground and his men did not resort to violence of any kind.

The prime minister might want to brush up on his knowledge of Article 6 in order to put it in the right context. When we have not been able to apply this article to those who abrogated the Constitution, it is rather unfair of him to brandish it so casually. Talk of treason should not be taken lightly by anyone, including the prime minister.

Published in Dawn, February 16th, 2020