Retired general Amjad Shoaib remanded in police custody for 3 days for ‘inciting hatred against institutions’
An Islamabad district and sessions court on Monday granted the police a three-day remand of defence analyst and retired Lieutenant General Amjad Shoaib, following his arrest after a magistrate registered a case against him on charges of inciting the public against state institutions.
The first information report (FIR), a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, was lodged at the Ramna police station by Magistrate Owais Khan a day ago. It invokes section 153A (promoting enmity between different groups, etc) and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
The complaint said that the retired general — in an interview on BOL TV show ‘Imran Khan Bol Kay Saath’ aired on Saturday (Feb 25) — passed statements that “incited the government officials and opposition from performing their government and legal duties”.
Following his arrest, the retired lieutenant general was presented in the court of Judicial Magistrate Abbas Shah where Ramna police station’s investigation officer (IO) and Prosecutor Adnan were also present.
The legal team representing the retired general — comprising Advocate Mudassir Khalid Abbasi, Islamabad Bar Association President Advocate Qaiser Imam and Advocate Riyasat Ali Azad — were also in attendance.
Against the prosecution’s request for a seven-day physical remand, the court granted the police a three-day physical remand of Lt-Gen (R) Shoaib and issued directives for him to be produced before the court on March 2.
At the outset of the hearing, the IO requested a seven-day physical remand of Lt-Gen (R) Shoaib. The prosecutor then read out the text of the complaint filed against the retired general.
“Lt-Gen (R) Shoaib was present as a guest on a private television [channel]. Hatred was spread against the government through his statement. Through his statement, it was attempted to cause hatred between the government, opposition and government officials,” he read the complaint.
The prosecutor further said, “The relations between the opposition and the government are not well; they were incited through the statement.
“The opposition is being incited to employ a stricter strategy against the government. Through Lt-Gen (R) Shoaib’s statement, hatred is being spread between three factions,” he added.
“As per the sections imposed on Lt-Gen (R) Shoaib, a sentence of five years can be given,” prosecutor Adnan said.
He said a photogrammetric and a voice matching were required to be conducted of the retired general, adding that the photogrammetric test will be done in Lahore.
At this point during the hearing, Lt-Gen (R) Shoaib’s counsel Abbasi opposed the grant of the physical remand and requested for his client to be discharged from the case.
Advocate Abbasi said, “The court has to see whether Lt-Gen (R) Shoaib even committed a crime or not. If the magistrate thinks the suspect has not committed any offence, then [Lt-Gen (R) Shoaib] can be discharged from the case.”
He argued that the sections registered in the case were “not even applicable” as Lt-Gen (R) Shoaib had “only given an example regarding a specific situation”.
Abbasi asked, “Did Lt-Gen (R) Shoaib say something on which the law has imposed a restriction?” He asserted his client had “till today, not said anything that would harm the country”.
Deeming his client’s statement “constructive criticism”, the counsel said, “The case has been filed on political bases only.”
He added, “Lt-Gen (R) Shoaib is almost 80 years old and is being harassed for a long time. He was sent behind bars within an hour of filing the case.”
Imam, another member of Lt-Gen (R) Shoaib’s defence team, said his client had acknowledged giving the said statements on the TV channel. “If he has admitted his statement and presence [on the TV show], then why does a photogrammetric and voice matching test need to be done?” he asked.
Upon this, the prosecutor said, “The evidence of voice matching and a photogrammetric test is necessary for the trial.”
At one point, the retired general’s counsel said “the arrests of [only] two institutions’ officials had been pending,” adding that “the next arrest could perhaps be of a member of the judiciary.”
Following the conclusion of the arguments from both sides, the court reserved its verdict.
The FIR quoted Lt-Gen (R) Shoaib as saying that the Jail Bharo court arrest movements could not produce the required outcomes because it was only the people who were bearing pain and agony in it, while “narcissist and shameless rulers sitting atop didn’t care the least about it”.
The magistrate stated that the retired army officer had advised the PTI to “work out a strategy”.
“For example, you can stop people from going to government offices in Islamabad,” the FIR quoted Lt-Gen (R) Shoaibas saying.
The complaint said that the retired general’s statement had “tried to create further enmity, anarchy and hatred between the government and the opposition”, adding that Lt-Gen (R) Shoaib had passed these remarks “according to a well-thought conspiracy and planning to further weaken the country”.
Subsequently, the complainant asked for legal action to be taken against the retired general for his remarks.
Former prime minister Imran Khan condemned the arrest, saying that “democracy and freedom” were being “totally destroyed in the country to save regime change conspiracy’s fascist order of cabal of crooks propped by handlers”.
He urged every Pakistani to “stand up for Haqeeqi Azadi and save the country from the abyss”.
PTI Vice President Fawad Chaudhry said nothing would be gained from the arrest except “hatred and anxiety”.
“The arrest of such a senior military general for mere criticism is a very wrong tradition,” he said, adding that Shoaib should be released.
Former PPP senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar said he disagreed with many of Shoaib’s views but the treatment being meted out to him was condemnable.
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