An anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Karachi indicted on Wednesday Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) leader and MNA Ali Wazir and 10 others in a sedition case pertaining to the delivery of hate speech against state institutions at a rally in Karachi's Sohrab Goth.
The judge of ATC-XII framed charges against Ali and other accused, namely Noorullah Tareen, Baseerullah, Ahsanullah, Sher Ayoub Khan, Muhammad Sher Khan, Javed Raheem, Muhammad Tahir alias Qazi Tahir, Ibrahim Khan, Naimatullah alias Adil Shah and Muhammad Sarwar.
Police had booked Ali and several of the party's leaders — including PTM chief Manzoor Pashteen, MNA Mohsin Dawar, Muhammad Shafi and Hidayatullah Pashteen — for sedition, inciting the public to wage war against the state and using derogatory language against security forces at the Sohrab Goth rally on December 6, 2020.
At the last hearing, an ATC in Karachi had declared Pashteen, Dawar and two others proclaimed offenders in the case.
During today's (Wednesday) hearing, the court quoted the prosecution as saying that police had received information on December 6 last year that the persons accused in the case, along with around 1,800-2,000 PTM supporters, were making preparations for a rally at a ground opposite Al-Asif Square in Sohrab Goth "without getting requisite permission ... [from the relevant] department".
The prosecution said that subsequently, the accused, as well as the proclaimed offenders, delivered speeches at the rally.
"Such speeches were recorded [...] and translated, which revealed that those hate speeches were against armed forces, civil armed forces, the institutions of Pakistan, state of Pakistan and a community," the court order noted the prosecution as claiming. It added that the intention behind the speeches was to "conspire, promote and instigate racial [and] ethnic violence [between] different groups and communities of Pakistan, and [...] to initiate [a] war against Pakistan".
The court framed charges against the accused under sections 120-B (punishment for criminal conspiracy), 121 (waging or attempting to wage war or abetting the waging of war against Pakistan), 121-A (conspiracy to commit offences punishable under section 121), 124-A (sedition), 153 (wantonly provocating with the intent to cause riot), 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups), 505 (statements conducing to public mischief), 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation), 188 ( disobedience to an order duly promulgated by a public servant), and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of a common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code and section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.
All of the accused pleaded not guilty and will be facing a trial.
Police had arrested Wazir in Peshawar in connection with the case on the request of the Sindh police and had flown him to Karachi.
Wazir was kept in judicial custody while 10 of the other accused in the case were on bail.
Witnesses had told Dawn at the time that Wazir was arrested after he attended a ceremony held at Shuhada APS Public Library in connection with the sixth anniversary of the Army Public School carnage, which had left 147 people, mostly students, dead.
Several leaders of the PTM, who have also been charged in the case, were also present but were not held.
A first information report was registered against the accused on December 7, 2020, wherein the complainant, SHO Riaz Ahmad Bhutto, had said that when he had reached the venue of the rally in Sohrab Goth, he saw the accused addressing around 2,000 participants and trying to create hatred towards different groups and to create law and order situation.
The SHO had said that some of the suspects used derogatory language against security forces, police, Rangers and other state institutions.