The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Friday censured PML-N MNA Javed Latif for making statements against the country and state institutions.
LHC Chief Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan presided over a hearing on Latif's petition asking the court to quash “illegal” cases against him.
Latif had been booked by police in March on charges of committing treason and incitement against the state.
A case was registered against the MNA on the complaint of a citizen, Jameel Saleem. According to the first information report, the MNA from Sheikhupura had allegedly defamed state institutions and delivered hateful remarks about them.
The case was filed after Latif, in a TV talk show, had said: “If anything happened to PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz, the PML-N will not say Pakistan khappay (long live Pakistan).”
His comment had been roundly criticised by members of the government with Punjab Prisons Minister Fayyazul Hassan Chohan vowing to get a case registered against him while PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had also said that Latif should apologise for his remarks.
During the hearing, the chief justice told Latif to "leave the country and go abroad if you want to say such things.”
“Fear God! Why do you say such things?" he questioned, adding people would hold anyone who spoke against the country accountable.
"Is our patriotism really loyalty to the state or loyalty to personalities? Personalities keep coming and going," said the chief justice, further remarking that it was important to self-reflect.
"If you want to stay here then go and present your justification to the police."
Latif's lawyer argued that "legal requirements had not been completed" in the case against Latif, to which the chief justice responded that there were forums present to address that and "you should go there."
"There is no relief available for the man who speaks against the country.
"[They] speak against the country and against the Constitution and then go to the courts for relief," remarked Justice Khan.
The chief justice questioned if anyone had the courage to speak against Pakistan and observed that personalities were not important, rather the Constitution was important. "Personalities keep coming and going [but state] institutions remain."
Consequently, Latif withdrew his petition from the LHC.
'Saying long live Pakistan won't solve the issue'
Addressing the media outside the LHC, Latif said that people had been branded as traitors for the past 73 years. He said that the brand of traitor had never before been applied to him.
"If those giving the title of traitor are right, then the people should say zindabad (long live) for them. [Instead] people say zindabad (long live) for those who've been given the title of traitor."
"If the one raising [their] voice in today's situation is a criminal of the Constitution and the law, then punish them but have mercy on Pakistan," said Latif, adding, "don't make such policies where you give birth to traitors everyday."
He said that slogans of Pakistan zindabad (long live) were raised without any practical implementation and at the same time, it was said that Pakistan faced "internal and foreign threats".
"Just saying long live Pakistan won't solve the issue. You will have to protect Pakistan while acting upon the Constitution."
"You are not entitled to be called a public representative unless you raise your voice for the supremacy of the Constitution," said Latif, adding that he was "proud" that he had raised his voice for the observance of the Constitution and pointed out mistakes.
"If someone hangs me for this then [let them] hang me."
Latif said that it was the state's responsibility to provide protection to Benazir Bhutto when she had pointed out names prior to her assassination from whom she was facing threats. Instead, he said, her heirs had formed the government with the same people.
"I said that our leadership was getting threatening calls and if protection was not provided to them, then we wouldn't say Pakistan khappay (long live) with those whose names we were taking, just to form the government."
The PML-N MNA said the people would struggle for those persons to be punished. "What did I say wrong when I said that saying Pakistan khappay (long live) won't solve the issue?"
"You and my elders have made and are making sacrifices for Pakistan. If the Constitution is to be trampled, then tear up this book. If you do not agree [with it then] bring a new law."