The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday issued notices to the police and complainant — a representative of the Judge Advocate General (JAG) branch of the Pakistan Armed Forces — in a case against activist and lawyer Imaan Mazari-Hazir for allegedly "abusing and defaming the senior command of the Pakistan Army".
A first information report (FIR) was registered against Mazari-Hazir on May 26 at the capital's Ramna police station on the complaint of Lt Colonel Iftikhtar. She had been booked under sections 505 (inciting people against armed forces) and 138 (abetment of act of insubordination by soldier) of the Pakistan Penal Code, but was later granted pre-arrest bail by the IHC.
The FIR said that Mazari-Hazir had made a "derogatory and hateful" statement on May 21, the day her mother, former human rights minister Shireen Mazari, was arrested from outside her house in a land ownership and transfer case.
On May 30, the activist was summoned before the investigation team and asked to record her statement but she sought time for submitting a written statement after consulting her counsel.
At the hearing today, Mazari-Hazir submitted her statement to the IHC, in which she said the allegations against her were "baseless". Justice Minallah, after reading the statement, observed that the activist's comments were unintentional. "You have clearly written that you were under stress and expressed concerns," he said.
The judge then asked her if she told those things to the police after being included in the investigation.
Subsequently, Mazari-Hazir's lawyer, Zainab Janjua, replied that her client had answered all the questions by the police.
"The petitioner's mother was picked up. She (Mazari-Hazir) was in distress," Janjua told the court. "We haven't even talked about the Pakistan Army. There is no question of spreading hatred [against them]," she added.
At this, Justice Minallah remarked that after this statement, the institution should retract its complaint. "We are issuing notices to the respondents on the petition and seek replies from them," he added and adjourned the hearing till June 9.
Complaint against Mazari-Hazir
The FIR said that Mazari-Hazir had made a "derogatory and hateful" statement on May 21, the day her mother was arrested from outside her house in a land ownership and transfer case.
A video of a visibly distraught Mazari-Hazir was later shared on social media in which she could be seen making statements about COAS Bajwa.
The FIR against the lawyer said her "derogatory statements are highly disparaging, aimed to cause and incite mutiny/intimidation amongst rank and file of the Pakistan Army", adding that they led to "ridicule and created hatred within the Pakistan Army, while also causing unrest within the institution".
"Her insightful [sic] statements also aid/abets an act of insubordination by officers/soldiers of the Pakistan Army. There are reasons to believe that such [an] act will harm the reputation of [the] army and senior leadership," the FIR stated.
It also said Mazari-Hazir's "act" reflected her intent to cause fear and alarm among the public "thus inducing to commit offence against the state".
Later, challenging the FIR, the lawyer representing Mazari-Hazir said her client was being made a "victim of ulterior motives and highhandedness of the complainant and others, who are highly influential".
"The FIR is ill-founded and allegations are absurd," the petition said.