ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) not to harass workers and activists of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).

IHC Chief Justice while hearing a petition filed by the PTI sought a report from the director cybercrime wing of the FIA over alleged harassment of political workers.

“The Director General, Federal Investigation Agency is directed to ensure that its officers do not violate the SOPs that had been submitted before the Court and that workers and activists of the petitioner party are not illegally harassed,” the court order said.

The petition was filed by the party through Ali Nawaz Awan, its member National Assembly, who resigned from the seat. Interestingly, the petitioner in order to establish its case relied on a recent judgment of the IHC that had declared the controversial amendments to Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (Peca) through a presidential ordinance and Section 20 of the Act which had criminalised defamation as unconstitutional.

The PTI government was defending the Peca ordinance and its social media activists openly criticised the remarks of the IHC chief justice against it.

The counsel contended that political workers and activists associated with the petitioner political party were being illegally harassed by officials of the FIA.

He asserted that the powers vested under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016 were being abused.

The court was informed that the FIA raided the house of Dr Arslan Khalid and kept him in illegal detention.

The petition alleged that after the change of the government, the PTI had been targeted at the behest of their political opponents. Therefore, an onslaught has been unleashed upon the party workers, especially the social media users who openly support the PTI.

It further alleged that many social media activists belonging to the PTI including (but not limited) Dr Arslan Khalid, Azhar Mashwani, Mohammad Waqas, Salar Sultanzai and Wasif Kazmi along with their families had been harassed at the behest of the ruling party and threatened by the FIA officials.

Justice Minallah sought a report from the FIA and adjourned further hearing till Friday (today).

Published in Dawn, April 15th, 2022

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