The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) on Wednesday filed an application in the Supreme Court to withdraw its review petition against the court’s verdict on the 2017 sit-in by the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) at Faizabad in Islamabad.

The media watchdog’s decision comes just a day after the Intelligence Bureau also filed an application in the apex court to withdraw its petition against the verdict.

Authored by Justice Qazi Faez Isa years before he took oath as the chief justice of Pakistan (CJP), the searing judgement had instructed the defence ministry and the tri-services chiefs to penalise personnel under their command who were found to have violated their oath.

It had also directed the federal government to monitor those advocating hate, extremism and terrorism and prosecute them in accordance with the law.

Adverse observations were also made against several government departments for causing inconvenience to the public as the 20-day sit-in paralysed life in both Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

Pleas were subsequently moved against the verdict by the Ministry of Defence, the IB, the PTI, the Pemra, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the Mutta­hida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed and Ejazul Haq.

Headed by CJP Isa, a three-judge bench, which includes Justice Aminuddin Khan and Justice Athar Minallah, will take up the review petitions tomorrow (Thursday).

However, the Pemra filed an application today in the apex court, saying that the body’s chairman, via a letter dated September 26, had desired that the review petition be withdrawn and that the authority did not wish to pursue the matter further.

The application requested that the petitioner may be allowed to withdraw the review petition.

While the IB had sought to withdraw its review petition, Rasheed, via Advocate Mehr Khan Malik, had also yesterday requested the Supreme Court to adjourn tomorrow’s hearing.

The plea stated that since the AML chief’s counsel, Amanullah Kanrani, had taken over the charge of the law minister for Balochistan, he was not in a position to appear before the apex court.

The Lahore High Court, after being told that Rasheed was not in police custody while his counsel claimed he was arrested, has ordered the police to make an all-out effort for his recovery.

The pleas

The IB’s review petition had urged the court to set aside the adverse observations made against the department, adding that it was a premier civilian intelligence agency which was responsible for state security.

It had contended that the impugned order created “bad impression” on the public that the IB was involved in unlawful activities and politics, after transgressing constitutional boundaries.

It had said the observations made in the verdict were based on “vague facts” and that during the sit-in, the department was in close contact with the federal and Punjab governments and forewarned them about the plans and intentions of the TLP, with a view to foiling their attempt to storm/lockdown Islamabad.

Meanwhile, In response, the defence ministry had requested the court to set aside the explicit or implicit observations about the armed forces and/or the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

The ministry’s petition had said that a host of factors may affect morale. However, it said, what was fatal was the belief amongst the rank and file that their officers while acting like “self-proclaimed saviours” were violating the fundamental rights of citizens and instead of serving “Pakistan and thus all its citizens”, supporting a “particular political party, faction or politician”.

“…When the source of such remarks is the highest court in the land, it can promote fissiparous tendencies and has the capacity to destroy the ability of the armed forces to act as a cohesive fighting force,” the review petition had argued.

It had further said there was no evidence before the court to suggest that the armed forces or ISI were, in any manner, involved with either the sit-in or a particular outcome of the general elections of 2018 or the abridgment of free speech or intimidation or censorship of the press.

In its petition, the ECP had contended that it had comprehensively applied and enforced the Constitution, law and the code of conduct by issuing a letter to the TLP on Aug 16, 2017, asking the party to provide details of its bank account and even had issued notices to it with a warning to cancel its registration.

Meanwhile, the PTI had questioned the mention in the verdict of the 2014 joint sit-in organised by it and the Pakistan Awami Tehreek in Islamabad, and had said the impression one gets from it was that the party conducted an illegal protest for publicity and deliberately made wrong allegations.

The petition contended that the party had nothing to do with the TLP Faizabad sit-in and therefore the remarks should be expunged.

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