ISLAMABAD: With the PTI gearing up to march on the national capital, the federal government on Thurs­day approached the Sup­reme Court seeking a restra­ining order against former prime minister Imran Khan from creating a perceived law and order situation in the name of “jihad” against the state through a planned long march, specifically at a time when flood-affected people require urgent relief.

On the other hand, the Interior Ministry also instituted contempt of court charges against PTI Chair­man Imran Khan for allegedly flouting the Supreme Court’s May 25 order. Whenever the apex court takes up the case, it is likely to be represented by the attorney general’s office.

In the May order, the petition recalled, the apex court had directed the PTI to hold a gathering in a ground located between sectors H-9 and G-9 in view of the categorical assurances on behalf of the party’s top leadership and their counsel that their rally would not cause any inconvenience or blockage of the Srinagar Highway or trouble the public and that the rally would be conducted in a peaceful and lawful manner.

Despite these assurances, the PTI top leadership, acting in blatant disregard for the directions, exhorted its supporters to reach D-Chowk, falsely professing that the court had allowed the march without any conditions.

The contempt petition pleaded for implementation of the apex court order for the protection of fundamental rights of the public, particularly residents of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. The Supreme Court should also issue comprehensive guidelines for all future protests to be held in the federal capital that should include prior intimation of the date, selection of the venue, assurance of not causing any hindrance to public life and a commitment to ensure that the protesters would not cause any damage to public or private property.

The plea seeking a restraining order claimed the tone and tenor adopted by the PTI chairman in his speeches against the incumbent rulers and state institutions was “highly inflammatory”, aimed at encouraging distrust and contempt and instigating revolt.

This had caused significant alarm not only among the public, but also the international community and investors regarding the impact of this purported ‘jihad’, the petition claimed, adding the past conduct of the party head, especially the events of May 25 and his violation of court orders, his alleged encouragement of destruction of public and private property and disruption of law and order, merited strong directions from the apex court about his upcoming protests.

It further highlighted that the country was currently dealing with an unprecedented natural disaster that had caused massive loss of life, crops and infrastructure putting extreme pressure on an already vulnerable economy.

If the PTI’s march was allowed to go unchecked and unregulated, it would not only create a tenuous political and law and order situation in the entire country, but also divert the federal government’s attention from the rehabilitation efforts required in the flood-affected areas to mitigating the impact on the lives of residents of the twin cities.

The petition pleaded before the court that the current conduct and plans of the PTI chairman should be examined, adding in the last few weeks or so and through his speeches and media interviews, Imran Khan had been preparing his party workers and supporters for a long march towards Islamabad.

By describing the march and protest as a “jihad”, Mr Khan was instigating and inciting the public to revolt against the government.

“This call for jihad is nothing other than waging war against the state by a party and its leader who cannot accept that he was forced out of the government through constitutional means,” the petition feared.

Published in Dawn, October 14th, 2022

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