- Justice Siddiqui says court expects Pakistan Army to probe into COAS’ name being used in agreement
IHC proposes taking issue of agreement to parliament
ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday declared the agreement between the government and Faizabad protesters unconstitutional and illegal, saying that the protesters committed blasphemy and the state surrendered before them.
Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, while hearing the case petitioned by ordinary citizens and the religious group, observed that the agreement doesn’t have any legal standing.
On Nov 6, workers of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYR) and activists of other religious groups camped at the Faizabad Interchange in Islamabad against the hastily-abandoned change in the oath of elected representatives, virtually paralysing the twin cities for more than two weeks.
Police and Frontier Constabulary (FC) personnel had launched an operation against the protesters after the high court had ordered the clearance of the bridge that connects the federal capital with Rawalpindi. The same day, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa had advised Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to “handle the Islamabad dharna peacefully”.
The day-long operation had culminated with the government seeking the military’s assistance to disperse the participants who had put up fierce resistance to the security personnel’s action.
However, the army had said in its response that while it was “fully ready” to take action, a “few points need deliberation”. Subsequently, no troops were deployed in the city.
The group called off its nationwide protests on Nov 27 after the government conceded to the TLYR demands, including dropping all the cases against the protesters and law minister Zahid Hamid’s resignation.
ARMY CHIEF’S NAME USED IN DEAL:
On Monday, Justice Siddiqui said the court expected the Pakistan Army to probe into Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s name being used in the agreement.
The high court, which had been scrutinising the role of the armed forces as a mediator in the fiasco, gave two options to Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf Ali who was present in the courtroom — to decide whether the matter related to the agreement should be referred to parliament or if a joint session could discuss it.
Justice Siddiqui questioned how the state could abolish cases registered under the anti-terrorism act (ATA) against the protesters who had paralysed the capital and brutally tortured police officials, and enquired how TLYR chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi could pardon anyone’s murder.
He questioned that if, as an ordinary citizen, he is injured by the protesters, how can the state sign an agreement on his behalf.
Justice Siddiqui said that the case would not be dismissed until the police are compensated for the losses incurred by them during the sit-in.
“Is the police not a part of the state? You should pay four months salary to the police for their work,” the judge observed.
“The court will not endorse the agreement between the state and protesters,” said the IHC judge and added that the government accepted the demand of only one side and that the army played the role of a moderator in negotiating the contentious deal.
The IHC bench recommended the government authorities, including the mediator (army chief), to deliberate on the agreement.
On this, Ashtar Ausaf sought time to look into the matter, saying that he was not in the country and needed time to prepare the report.
In a written order on Nov 27, the IHC bench had directed the attorney general to help the court determine how the armed forces could act as an arbitrator. He also informed the court that the matter was also sub judice in the Supreme Court and, therefore, the IHC should wait for the outcome of its proceedings.
Justice Siddiqui said, “Nobody’s life is safe in the country.” The IHC judge also directed the AGP to stop the issuance of fatwas (religious decrees), from mosques and madrassas, declaring anyone a non-Muslim.
The Intelligence Bureau also presented a report on the botched operation against the protesters during the hearing while the Islamabad chief commissioner submitted a detailed report on the protest.
Meanwhile, special assistant to the prime minister, Barrister Zafarullah Khan, excused himself from IHC’s order to prepare a report on the sit-in.
On Nov 27, the high court had tasked Zafarullah with filing a report on “what happened [during the sit-in] where and when” within 10 days.
The IHC later adjourned the hearing until Jan 12.