• Maryam, AJK premier among over 40 others facing same charge
• Fawad, Gill claim PM was not taken on board

LAHORE: Following the registration of a sedition case against Nawaz Sharif and PML-N top leadership, including Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider, on Monday, the federal government distanced itself from the “move” as Prime Minister Imran Khan “expressed his strong displeasure” over the development.

The Lahore police registered the case under sedition and other serious charges against the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz supremo and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and 41 other senior leaders of the party.

The sedition case was lodged against the PML-N with the Shahdara Police Station on Monday on the complaint of a citizen, Badar Rasheed, a resident of Khursheed Park of Shahdara.

Those booked also included the Prime Minister of Azad Jammu & Kashmir, Raja Farooq Haider.

In the first information report (FIR), the complainant alleged that the former premier who was convicted on corruption charges by the Pakistani courts, had delivered “hateful speeches” while addressing the All Parties Conference (APC), and his party’s Central Working Committee (CWC) and Central Executive Committee (CEC) on Sept 20 and Oct 1, against the state, its institutions and the nation as well.

He said the party’s senior leaders who were attending these meetings endorsed speeches of the convicted Nawaz Sharif by raising hands.

The complainant alleged that the purpose of calling these meetings and the speeches of the former PM and PML-N leaders was to endorse the policy of neighbouring country India aimed to get Pakistan declared ‘a rouge state’ and to keep its name on the grey list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

He further alleged that the leaders had gathered at the APC to “conspire” against the country as well as national institutions.

The FIR was registered under section 10 of the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act (2016), sections 124-A (sedition), 121-A (conspiracy to wage war against Pakistan), 120 (concealing design to commit offence punishable with imprisonment) 120-A (criminal conspiracy), 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 123-A (condemning the creation of the country and advocating the abolishing of its sovereignty), 124 (assaulting President, Governor, etc., with intention to compel or restrain the exercise of any lawful power) and 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups), of the Pakistan Penal Code. According to the FIR, Nawaz Sharif instigated his party leaders, state institutions and the nation to treason against Pakistan while using the media from abroad (London).

It further alleged that the purpose of convicted Nawaz Sharif was to provoke the nation and his party leaders against the elected government of Pakistan for bloodshed in the country.

It states Nawaz wanted to provide indirect benefit to “his friend Indian prime minister Narendra Damodardas Modi and “divert attention” from the Indian army’s atrocities in the Occupied Jammu & Kashmir.

The complainant further alleged that the former PM tried to isolate Pakistan internationally and defame its army as “an anti-democratic institution” world over.

He alleged that Nawaz Sharif was taking advantage of the bails granted to him on human grounds and using print and electronic media to fulfill his “nefarious designs” against Pakistan, its state institutions and the masses.

‘PM kept in the dark’

The Punjab government lodged the treason case against PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and others, “keeping the prime minister in the dark”.

Punjab Information Minister Fayyazul Hassan Chohan at a presser on Monday went on to say that all those nominated in the case should be arrested. He stressed the Lahore police, led by Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Umer Sheikh, should constitute teams and arrest all those speaking against the state institutions.

However, federal science and technology minister Fawad Chaudhry, soon after Mr Chohan’s statement, deflated Punjab government’s enthusiasm when he tweeted that “launching sedition cases is not PTI government’s policy” and termed such action a “legacy of the Nawaz era”.

Mr Chaudhry, in his tweet claimed that Prime Minister Imran Khan did not know about the sedition FIR against Nawaz Sharif and when the matter was brought into his knowledge “the prime minister expressed his annoyance”.

“Maybe someone has tried to score points”, stated Mr Fawad, referring to the treason case. He also stated, “the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) is a political party and it has many other moves on the chessboard of politics”.

Continuing with the chessboard analogy, Mr Chaudhry added that the PML-N should try to “save its pawns because checkmate to the king was still far away”. “The game has just begun, there is no need to hurry,” he tweeted.

Meanwhile, Dr Shahbaz Gill, Special Assistant to Prime Minister Imran Khan for Political Media, said that the PTI government was not in favour of making sedition cases against political people. This is what the PML-N used to do and we objected to it.

He added that there was no charge of treason in the FIR, it included “sedition” provisions “which was not a crime of treason”.

In response, former federal interior minister and senior PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal said that Prime Minister Imran Khan came to know everything from TV.

He said that he did not know if there was devaluation of rupee, he did not know whether the price of oil increase by Rs25 per liter, he did not know if there was a case of sedition. “Isn’t the country running on auto pilot?” asked Ahsan Iqbal.

The other PML-N leaders nominated in the case included (former leader of the house in Senate) Raja Zafarul Haq, (former speaker of the National Assembly) Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, (former prime minister) Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, (ex-federal minister) Khurram Dastgir, (former interior minister) Ahsan Iqbal, (former defence minister) Khawaja Asif, (former information minister) Pervaiz Rashid, (former law minister) Rana Sanaullah, (former railway minister) Khawaja Saad Rafiq, Marriyum Aurangzeb, retired Lt Gen Abdul Qayyum, Saleem Zia, Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, Salahuddin Tirmizi, Sheikh Aftab Ahmad, Begum Zakiya Shahnawaz, Tariq Razaq Chaudhry, Sardar Yaqub Nisar, Nawabzada Changez Mari, Miftah Ismail, Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, Mohammad Zubair, Abdul Qadir Baloch, Shaza Faima Khawaja, Murtaza Javed Abbasi, Mehtab Abbasi, Mian Javed Latif, Attaullah Tarrar, Chaudhry Barjees Tahir, Chaudhry Mohammad Jafar Iqbal, Azma Bukhari, Shaista Javed Malik, Saira Afzal Tarrar, Begum Ishrat Ashraf, Waheed Alam, Raheela Durrani, Danial Aziz, Raja Farooq Haider, Amir Muqam and Irfan Siddiqui.

Published in Dawn, October 6th, 2020