PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Thursday directed the provincial government to decide the petitions of several lawmakers-elect and PTI leaders against the recommendation of authorities to put their names in the Fourth Schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act.

Disposing of those pleas, a bench consisting of Justice Shakeel Ahmad and Justice Sahibzada Asadullah referred the matter to the provincial additional chief secretary (home) for looking into their grievances as well as for decision in accordance with the law.

Noted among petitioners were former National Assembly speaker and MNA-elect Asad Qaiser, MNA-elect Junaid Akbar, MPAs-elect Amjid Ali, Iftikhar Mashwani, Tufail Anjum, Mian Sharafat Ali, Abdul Salam, Zahir Shah Toru, Fazal Hakeem, Azizullah Khan and Shafiullah, former MNA Gul Zafar Khan, and others.

Lawyers Syed Sikandar Hayat Shah, Ali Zaman and Shah Faisal Uthmankhel appeared for the petitioners and said most of their clients were elected lawmakers, who had represented their respective constituencies in past assemblies as well.

Declares govt’s act of putting Qaiser on ECL is illegal

They said prior to the Feb 8 general elections, the provincial caretaker government had started a crackdown on PTI leaders and workers and had been harassing them.

The counsel argued that the relevant district intelligence coordination committees headed by the respective deputy commissioners had recommended to the government to place the names of the petitioners in the ATA’s Forth Schedule.

They said the move was meant to keep petitioners out of the Feb 8 electoral contest.

The lawyers said the deputy commissioners had mostly claimed that the petitioners were involved in the May 9 violent protests and they were booked in that connection.

They said the government had to include names of those either suspected of having links with terrorist or banned outfits and involved in terror-financing in the Fourth Schedule.

Lawyer Sikandar Hayat said the high court had earlier granted interim relief to petitioners and restrained the government and its law-enforcement agencies from acting against them.

Additional advocate general Danyal Asad Chamkani said the district intelligence coordination committees had recommended to the government to place petitioners in the Fourth Schedule but that hadn’t happened so far.

He argued that instead of the high court, the petitioners should have approached the provincial government for placing their pleas before the relevant review board.

The bench observed that after general elections, the attitude of the relevant officers might change towards petitioners.

QAISER ECL CASE: The bench declared illegal the federal government’s act of placing the name of former National Assembly speaker Asad Qaiser in the Exit Control List.

Accepting a petition of Mr Qaiser, it directed the interior ministry to remove his name from the ECL.

The petitioner’s lawyer, Mohammad Muazzam Butt, argued that his client was a law-abiding citizen and had served as the speaker of the national and KP assemblies.

He said he was victimised by the government for being part of the PTI.

The counsel said the petitioner intended to go to Saudi Arabia a few days ago to perform Umrah but was stopped at the airport from flying abroad as his name was on the ECL.

He said his client’s name was put on the ECL on June 23, 2023.

Assistant attorney general Rahat Ali Nahqi and Federal Investigation Agency assistant director Abdur Rehman Afridi informed the bench that as the petitioner was named in a terrorist case and therefore, his name was put on the ECL.

Published in Dawn, February 23rd, 2024

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