• Irked by en masse withdrawals of pleas against Faizabad judgement, Justice Isa wonders who is behind ‘orchestrated’ action
• Says incidents like Jaranwala could have been avoided if verdict was implemented; bench asks parties for replies by Oct 27

ISLAMABAD: Expressing anno­y­ance over the en masse withdrawal of petitions seeking review of the 2019 judgement in the Faizabad dharna case, Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa on Thursday wondered who was actually behind this decision and made it clear that the manipulation of the court would not be tolerated.

“Whether it is being done with free will or such directions came from the top,” asked the CJP while pointing towards ECP counsel Qamar Afzal.

Manipulation of the court will not be tolerated, emphasised the CJP, also making it clear that it was not acceptable to withdraw a plea whenever it suits the mood.

Headed by CJP Isa, a three-judge bench also observed that the requests to withdraw the review petitions were not being disposed of, rather the Supreme Court was recording the submissions of the counsel representing different parties.

Regretting that institutions were not being run independently, the CJP wondered whether the decision to withdraw petitions was being orchestrated.

“Was it orchestrated then, now or always,” he asked.

One by one on Thursday, the Ministry of Defence, Intelligence Bureau, Election Commission of Pakistan, Pemra, PTI and others told the court they were not pressing their review petitions.

Advocate on record representing the MQM was given another chance to establish contact with his client, whereas the counsel for Ejazul Haq was asked to furnish written submissions.

Why is everybody reluctant to speak the truth, particularly constitutional bodies like the ECP, the CJP wondered.

The judgement

The 2019 verdict had ordered the federal government to monitor those advocating hate, extremism and terrorism and prosecute them in accordance with 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 Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Besides, it ordered the Ministry of Defence, respective chiefs of the army, the navy and the air force to penalise personnel under their command found to have violated their oath.

The review petitions were filed asking the court to expunge strong observations against the institutions.

Justice Athar Minallah observed a lot of water had flown under the bridge, and events had suggested that a lot of introspection had taken place, with a realisation that the country should be governed under the Constitution and fundamental rights have to be protected.

Call for confession

At least, confess if some crime has been committed since truth will set you free and it is not enough that the constitutional body like the ECP is left at the whims of an individual, merely because the diktats came from the top, the CJP regretted.

Show some courage but don’t play games with the court, cautioned the CJP. He recalled that the entire country was brought to a standstill by the May 12, 2007 incident which left 55 people dead in Karachi, adding that a new concept of putting containers on roads was introduced then and media houses were ransacked. However, business goes on as usual still and no lessons have been learnt, “rather we are still relying on the power of the mob”.

The CJP again wondered on whose direction the ECP was acting, adding that instead of waxing eloquent on TV screens, where nobody was there to question them, “it would be better to make a speech here in the courtroom”.

Why the person, who wanted true democracy in the country, has not come from Canada, he observed, while referring to Tahirul Qadri.

Attorney General for Pakistan Mansoor Usman Awan conceded that the judgement must be implemented, adding that a lot of introspection had been done. The court asked him to furnish his arguments in writing.

“Let’s everybody be accountable and let’s start from ourselves,” observed the CJP. Expressing his surprise, he said he was expecting that the review petition will be taken back by the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP). But the late Khadim Rizvi, the-then TLP chief, seemed satisfied and wholeheartedly embraced the judgement, he noted.

Recalling how the premier intelligence agency had told the court during the hearing of case that it was not their mandate to check the source of the funding of political parties, he wondered would the agencies still say that it did not come under their mandate if some party was destroying the country.

The CJP emphasised that the judgement pertains to a certain time period and it did not pinpoint who were the persons involved behind the events.

When the AGP read out directions from the judgement to take action against those involved in hate mongering, the CJP regretted that had the timely action been taken, incidents like Jaranwala violence in August would not have taken place.

The state views everybody with their citizenship and not on the basis of religion, the CJP observed, adding that the court was trying to build the state and not undermining it.

The AGP sought time to show to the court that its judgement was being implemented.

“Let’s take the nation together, let’s see for the bright future of the country but it would not be bright without any accountability,” the CJP observed.

The court adjourned further proceedings to Nov 1 with a direction to parties to furnish their written replies by Oct 27.

Published in Dawn, September 29th, 2023


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