The trial of the senior Pakistan Muslim League leader Moonis Elahi finally came to an end on Friday, October 21, 2011 when Lahore District and Sessions Judge Mujahid Mustaqeem finding Moonis Elahi innocent of all the charges brought up by the Federal Investigation Agency, honourably acquitted him in the NICL case. Elahi’s supporters present in the court were jubilant over the announcement. The court’s order read that the prosecution had to establish the charges with cogent and overwhelming evidence, and convictions could not be based on mere presumptions. In an 11-page decision the judge held that Moonis Elahi was not nominated in the First Information Report (FIR) and that all the prosecution witnesses had turned hostile and not uttered a single word against Moonis Elahi in their statements. The court added that the confessional statements of the two other individuals accused in the case had no bearing on the acquittal decision of Moonis Elahi. Mere confession of an accused cannot be used against his co-accused for passing a conviction, unless it is corroborated with independent evidence, read the court’s order.
Moonis Elahi was now free to walk away from the court room. His decision of returning to Pakistan and facing all accusations had on this day been vindicated. In the absence of an extradition treaty between Pakistan and England, nothing could have forced Moonis Elahi to return. Yet, he came back. He didn’t ask for clemency or any kind of leniency from the country’s judiciary. He only asked for his right to plead his innocence.
Surrounded by his supporters after acquittal, Moonis Elahi was wearing that same smile he had worn throughout his court appearances in the last eight months. Moonis Elahi remained highly composed throughout the course of his trial. There were days when the mood of the court was extremely abrasive and the prosecution would try to hurl all kinds of false accusations at him, but Moonis Elahi never resigned to such odds. He never abandoned his struggle.
Moonis Elahi’s release had certainly reinvigorated the workers and they had every reason to celebrate a much required morale boosting outcome of the case where their favourite leader had been falsely implicated.
Even his worst critics admit that Moonis Elahi will in times to come be the force to reunite the currently balkanised Pakistan Muslim League and rid it of the undemocratic elements. And on that day, when after a legal struggle where Moonis Elahi embraced all difficulties to prove his innocence, the result had undoubtedly reinforced the workers’ loyalty and trust for their leader. It was indeed the culmination of a brave struggle.
The writer is Ch Pervez Elahi’s media coordinator.