PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Tuesday dismissed a petition seeking the disqualification of Chief Minister Mahmood Khan from holding public offices for threatening to use the province’s ‘force’ against the centre during the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s future march on Islamabad.

A bench consisting of Justice Lal Jan Khattak and Justice Mohammad Ibrahim Khan pronounced the order after holding preliminary hearing into the petition of Pakistan Peoples Party-affiliated senior lawyer Mohim Khan Afridi, who insisted that the chief minister’s announcement regarding the use of the province’s force against the centre was a ‘clear’ threat to the federation and would harm national unity.

The court observed that no cause of action had so far arisen on the basis of which it could issue any order against the respondent (chief minister).

It added that the respondent had also issued a clarification of his statement the very next day.

Advocate Lajbar Khan appeared for the petitioner and said while addressing a lawyers’ convention on May 30, the chief minister had declared that participants of the PTIs recent march on Islamabad were peaceful but if the centre ordered a crackdown by the Punjab police on party workers during the next such march, he would use his province’s ‘force’ to retaliate.

He said CM Mahmood had clearly declared that he would take revenge from the federal government and would use the province’s force against it in future.

“The chief minister’s announcement, which was widely covered by both print and electronic media, was against the Constitution, law and people’s fundamental rights guaranteed in the Constitution,” he said.

The counsel said Mr Mahmood elected as an MPA from Swat was the chief executive of the province, so his announcement, in that capacity, of confrontation with the federal force deputed to maintain law and order was tantamount to violating the Constitution and the oath of his office.

He contended that the CM’s announcement was against the scheme of the federation provided in the Constitution.

“The intended orders of the chief minister were not only illegal but were also meant to make the forces of the federal and provincial government fight with each other in order to fulfill his political gains,” he said.

Additional advocate general Umer Farooq said the petition was not maintainable and was liable to be dismissed.

He said the statement of the chief minister was taken out of context and was misinterpreted by the petitioner.

Mr Farooq also said the CM later clarified that by KP’s force, he meant the PTI’s workers and not police.

He said the chief minister had taken oath under the Constitution and he followed his oath in its letter and spirit.

The AAG added that the respondent had so far not issued any unconstitutional orders, which could cause his disqualification for public offices.

The respondents in the petition were the CM, provincial chief secretary, home secretary and police chief, the federal government through the secretary of the Cabinet Division, interior secretary, and the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority chairman.

Published in Dawn, June 29th, 2022

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