LAHORE: A district and sessions court has dismissed a petition seeking a criminal case against Mahmood Khan Achakzai, the chairman of Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, over alleged hate speech at the Dec 16 public meeting of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) at Minar-i-Pakistan.

A lawyer, Tanvir Arshad, had filed the petition after, what he claimed, the police refused to register a case under Section 153-A of the PPC.

In his detailed verdict, Additional District and Sessions Judge Hafiz Rizwan Aziz observed that it is an integral part of freedom of expression to seek historical truth. It is not the court’s role to arbitrate the underlying historical issues, which are part of a continuing debate between historians that shapes opinion as to the events that took place and their interpretation.

The judge also noted that the court is not supposed to settle the differences in opinions about historical facts relating to the role of Lahorites in supporting the English for occupying the Afghan land.

Referring to the speech delivered by Mr Achakzai at Minar-i-Pakistan, the judge remarked: “In fact, it appears that Mr Achakzai is attempting to promote harmony and brotherhood between different groups living in Pakistan.”

The judge noted that before airing his grievance, Achakzai apologised for several times and emphasised on the need for forging unity and harmony among different groups by removing underlying causes of disharmony, and ended his speech by delivering slogans eulogising different groups of people of Pakistan, including Lahorites and Punjabis, such as “Long live Punjabis”, “Long live Lahore” and “Long live people of Lahore”.

“Therefore, prima facie, Mr Achakzai’s speech appears to be not an offense falling within the scope of Section 153A of PPC,” Judge Aziz held in the verdict dismissing the petition.

REMAND: A judicial magistrate on Saturday remanded five members of the Orange Line Metro Train’s security staff in two-day physical remand with the police in a case of torturing labourers for lighting up a fire outside the Awan Town station of the metro train.

Police produced the suspects before the magistrate and sought their custody for investigation.

Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2021

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