Cabinet expresses dissatisfaction over Faizabad commission report

Published May 21, 2024
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chairs a meeting of the federal cabinet on Tuesday. — PID
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chairs a meeting of the federal cabinet on Tuesday. — PID

The federal cabinet on Tuesday expressed dissatisfaction over the report submitted by an inquiry commission formed to investigate the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakis­tan’s (TLP) 2017 Faizabad sit-in, observing that the commission had not adhered to the Terms of Reference (ToR).

The commission constituted to probe the 2017 Faizabad sit-in was constituted under the Pakistan Commission of Inquiry Act 2017 to ensure compliance with the February 6, 2019, apex court verdict, authored by then-Justice Qazi Faez Isa.

Although the primary objective of setting up the Faizabad commission was to fix responsibility for the failures that led to the TLP sit-in spiralling out of control, the commission’s report had stopped short of placing the blame directly on any individual’s shoulders.

The commission noted that since no one from among the then-prime minister, former ministers for law and interior and the former Punjab chief minister had accused intelligence agencies of facilitating the protesters, nor was any evidence furnished to this effect, the commission could not connect any organisation or state official with the TLP dharna.

Today’s federal cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, directed the formation of a special cabinet committee that would submit its recommendations on the matter.

Attorney General for Pakistan Mansoor Awan submitted an inquiry report on the matter and gave a detailed briefing to the cabinet, the PM Office said in a press release.

The Supreme Court previously criticised the report, describing it as “replete with clichés, platitudes, and homilies, often as a substitute for substance”.

A three-page order issued by the Supreme Court had noted that the commission’s report did not address the ToRs. The court observed that the report was biased and did not consider other aspects of the judgment and orders subsequently passed by the court.

The commission’s report was also criticised for exonerating the perpetrators of violence and castigating those at the political helm. The SC noted the report preferred the statement of one person over the testimony of another without explanation, demonstrating bias and compromising the commission’s impartiality.

Leaders from the two main parties in the ruling coalition had also slammed the report, saying that it only placed responsibility on politicians.

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif had said that it had “no authenticity or credibility” while former Senate chairman and veteran PPP leader Raza Rabbani had called the report “a non-starter”.

“It chose to close the matter while avoiding further controversy and avoided to fix any responsibility,” Rabbani noted, adding: “It has tried to shift the burden on the civilian government of Punjab, exonerating the then DGs of Rangers and ISI.”

Faizabad commission report

The commission, led by retired inspector general of police Syed Akhtar Ali Shah and also comprising former Islamabad police chief Tahir Alam Khan and additional interior secretary Khushal Khan, was constituted to ensure compliance with the 2019 SC judgment.

For­med to investigate the causes and subsequent events leading to the omission and commission of acts not in accordance with the law, the body had suggested legislation.

It also proposed drafting rules and SOPs to regulate the working of intelligence agencies since the involvement of the army or its affiliated agency in civilian matters adversely affected the fair image of the institution.

“Army is a sacred arm of the state, therefore to avoid criticism, the institution may not be involved in public matters. This task may be assigned to [the Intelligence Bureau] and civil administration,” it said.

The commission also suggested against using the paramilitary Rangers and Frontier Constabulary in urban areas and asked for a zero-tolerance policy for violent extremism. It also criticised past agreements with militant groups as a temporary fix that did not work.

Opinion

Editorial

China’s concerns
23 Jun, 2024

China’s concerns

Pakistan has no option but to neutralise militant threat to Chinese projects, as well as address its business and political stability concerns.
War drums
23 Jun, 2024

War drums

If it is foolish enough to launch another war in Lebanon, Tel Aviv will be solely responsible for setting the Middle East on fire.
Balochistan budget
23 Jun, 2024

Balochistan budget

BALOCHISTAN’S Rs955.6bn budget for the fiscal year 2024-25 makes many pledges to the poor citizens of Pakistan’s...
Another lynching
Updated 22 Jun, 2024

Another lynching

The chilling alternative to not doing anything — which appears to be the state’s preferred option — is the advent of mob rule.
Tax & representation
22 Jun, 2024

Tax & representation

THE taxation measures outlined in the budget for the incoming fiscal year have triggered a lot of concern among ...
Life of the party?
22 Jun, 2024

Life of the party?

THE launch of Awaam Pakistan, a party led by former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and former finance minister...