ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday ordered its registrar office to place a petition moved against the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leadership — over an alleged hate campaign targeting national institutions, including the armed forces, the apex court and the Election Commi­ssion of Pakistan — for open hearing.

Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, who heard an appeal in his chambers, removed the objections raised by the registrar office while returning the petition and ordered the matter to be fixed before the court.

The SC office had questioned the filing of the petition directly with the apex court under Article 184(3) of the Constitution, ins­t­ead of first approaching the forums below it.

The petition, moved by Advocate Qausain Faisal through his counsel Hassan Raza Pasha, pleaded that the private respondents, their official spokespersons and other members of the PTI be restrained from making any public or private statements.

SCBA distances itself from additional secretary’s ‘political statement’ seeking general elections

The petition also sought court directions for the appointment of a commission to assess the impact and damage of the alle­ged organised hate campaign and suggest legal steps and proceedings to determine individual liability as well as collective responsibility and to stop the negative effects of such campaign against national security institutions, which has adversely affected Pakistan’s relations with friendly countries.

The petition cited the federation through the interior secretary, the PTI and its chairman Imran Khan and former ministers Fawad Chaudhry and Dr Shireen Mazari, among others, as respondents.

The petition also sought directives for Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority, Federal Investigation Autho­rity, law enforcement agencies and Elec­tion Commission of Pakistan to stri­ctly control the publication of alleged organised hate campaign immediately and strictly deal with the violators.

Read: The curious case of anti-state smear campaigns on Twitter

The petition argued that it was a matter of public knowledge that after his ouster as prime minister, Imran Khan had been issuing alleged unfounded, provocative, highly defamatory and derogatory statements in public interviews, political rallies or other means, in print, electronic and social media.

The alleged hate campaign, the petition argued, was designed and calculated to tarnish the public image and severely harm the good reputation of institutions like the superior judiciary, armed forces and ECP. “This [hate campaign] will destabilise and weaken these institutions and demoralise individuals representing these institutions,” the petition feared, adding that these key national institutions were directly responsible for the vital task of national security, administration of justice, law and order and the protection of political rights of the citizens of Pakistan.

SCBA clarification

Also on Monday, the Supreme Court Bar Association clarified the issuance of a political statement from its platform, saying the association had nothing to do with it since any statement or decision of the SCBA was always prepared after consultation between its president, secretary and other office-bearers and the executive committee. “Obviously, the any statement by the additional secretary does not fall within his domain,” it said.

Soon after the by-election results in Punjab, SCBA additional secretary Chau­dhry Riasat Ali Gondal had issued a statement saying the “government had lost majority and the only path to progress is general elections”.

In their fresh statement, issued with the signature of its secretary Waseem Mumtaz Malik, SCBA clarified that the previous missive was based solely on the personal opinion of the additional secretary and the association strongly rejected any impressions and claims that it had any partisan agenda or supported a particular political segment/party.

Published in Dawn, July 19th, 2022

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