PTI leader Senator Azam Swati’s counsel, Babar Awan, during a hearing on Wednesday on the former’s bail application in a case related to a controversial tweet against the army chief, informed a special court in Islamabad that the first information report (FIR) was registered against his client without investigation.

Swati was arrested by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) last Thursday over his tweet in which he had sarcastically congratulated “Mr Bajwa” and a few others, saying “your plan is really working and all criminals are getting free at cost of this country” and alleging corruption had been “legitimised”.

Swati’s tweet had come after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Hamza Shehbaz were acquitted in a high-profile money laundering case.

The senator was later sent to Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail on 14-day judicial remand. The PTI leader moved an application before the FIA’s special court seeking his release on post-arrest bail.

Special Judge Central Raja Asif Meh­mood took up the application and issued a notice to the FIA.

During the hearing today, Awan read out the FIR in court. “The FIR states that Swati’s tweet violates the country’s integrity.

“The tweet was done at 7pm and the FIR was registered at 1am. When and where was the investigation done?” he asked. “How can the FIA arrest a person without investigation?”

A politician’s statement could not affect the country’s armed forces, he said and referred to the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) observation that the dignity of judges is not “so frail and vulnerable so as to be harmed by a tweet on social media”.

Awan questioned what act of treason Swati had committed through his tweet. “The IHC chief justice rightly questioned whether institutions were so feeble they would get scared of one man.”

Subsequently, Awan completed his arguments. Prosecutor Raja Rizwan Abbasi asked the court to grant him some time to prepare his arguments, following which the judge adjourned the hearing till tomorrow.

The case

The FIR registered at the FIA’s Cyber Crime Reporting Centre in Islamabad, a copy of which Dawn.com has seen, mentions that Swati tweeted with “malafide intentions & ulterior motives” against “State Institutes of The Islamic Republic of Pakistan and its Senior Government Functionaries including Chief of The Army Staff of Pakistan Army”.

The FIR adds that such “intimidating tweet/s of blaming and naming through Twitter account i.e., @AzamKhanSwatiPK, is a mischievous act of subversion to create a rift between personnel/s of The Armed Forces and an attempt to harm the State of Pakistan”.

Through the aforementioned tweet, the criminal complaint says, the accused “undermined the Judicial System of the country and also attempted to seduce Army Personnel/s from their allegiance to their duties as subordinates.

“This is calculated attempt to create hatred in the mind of people and Army Personnel/s against COAS and Pakistan Army and also created distrust towards Judicial System. In such intimidating Tweet/s, the accused Muhammad Azam Khan Swati has attempted to provoke general public and Personnel/s of Armed Forces by trying to create a feeling of ill-will among pillars of the State.”

It alleges Swati violated the privacy and intimidated the state institutions, by using false information, “which is likely to incite, any officer, soldier, sailor, or Airman in the Army, Navy or Air Force of Pakistan to mutiny or otherwise disregard or fail in his duty as such and is also likely to cause fear or alarm in the public and may induce / incite anyone to commit an offence against the State or the State Institution/s or public tranquillity”.

The case was made out against the PTI leader under section 20 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act-2016 read with 131 (abetting mutiny or attempting to seduce a soldier from his duty), 500 (punishment for defamation), 501 (printing or engraving matter known to be defamatory), 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) and 109 (punishment of abetment) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

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