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No blockades in future, SC assured

September 28, 2007

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ISLAMABAD, Sept 27: Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry took suo motu notice of the local administration’s move putting the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad under virtual siege on Thursday.

However, the administration officials had to tender an apology to the court with an assurance that no such measures would be taken in future in the name of maintaining law and order.

Top officials gave the assurances after they were summoned by the CJ to explain why the arrests were made and the twin cities sealed on the day nominations were filed before the Election Commission for the presidential election.

On a complaint by Justice Syed Jamshed Ali, the CJ summoned Chief Commissioner Islamabad Hamid Ali Khan, Deputy Commissioner Chaudhry Mohammad Ali, Inspector General Islamabad Police Syed Morvat Ali Shah and City Police Officer Rawalpindi Saud Aziz to tell the court on whose orders they created a curfew-like situation in the city; otherwise get ready to loose their jobs.

“You have created panic and imposed a curfew-like situation in the city,” the CJ observed, adding roads were blocked while hospitals locked leaving the people to face the hardships. “Many children could not go for examination,” he deplored.

The four-member bench which took up the matter comprised, besides the CJ, Justice Nasirul Mulk, Justice Raja Fayyaz Ahmed and Justice Syed Jamshed Ali.

“Within half an hour produce the orders authorising you to disrupt the country or face suspension,” the CJ warned them, wondering the first step the new IGP Islamabad took after assuming his office was to seal the city.

Justice Jamshed Ali directed the local administration to show on whose orders they violated Article 5 (loyalty to state and obedience to constitution and law) and 15 (freedom of movement) of the constitution.

Both the IGP Islamabad and the CPO Rawalpindi tendered unconditional apology to the court with the undertaking to strictly adhere to the provisions of the constitution and the law and that in future no road will be blocked.

The IGP, however, informed the court that he had not permitted the police to place any restriction on the movement of public despite the fact that there were political movements or actions in the province.

Justice Raja Fayyaz was worried over the fact that such measures were even not taken during the martial laws. Assurances were also held out that all political leaders including acting president PML-N Javed Hashmi, MMA parliamentarian Mian Muhammad Aslam and others taken into custody in a recent crackdown and on the eve of PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif’s return would be released immediately.

The court directed the four chief secretaries to submit comprehensive reports by Friday through the apex court registrar about the number of those detained under the maintenance of public order (MPO) or other laws. They were also asked to depute responsible and well-versed officers to explain about the arrests.

The chief justice asked how many political activists the administration had arrested, how many policemen had been deployed and what had happed to the country.

When additional advocate general Punjab Khadim Hussain Qaiser told the court that the extraordinary measures were taken on the apprehensions of suicide attacks, the CJP censured him for misleading the court, saying the security agencies even failed to prevent a suicide attack at the Tarbella SSG officers’ mess.

The AAG placed on record September 24 instructions issued by the IGP Punjab to erect pickets at important places to control law and order situation.

The CPO of Rawalpindi told the court that the city police had detained 80 persons on September 10 on the arrival of Nawaz Sharif. “They will also be released today,” he added.

When DC Islamabad was inquired why panic was created by detaining persons from different places, he said he had detained only Makhdoom Javed Hashmi and Mian Aslam but he would withdraw the detention orders accordingly.

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