Judges reject premier spy agency’s report on Faizabad sit-in, say journalist could’ve presented a more detailed report
Justice Eesa says he fears for country after seeing ISI’s performance, ‘agency answerable to tax-payers’
Says Khadim Rizvi destroyed property worth billions yet ‘no one knows what he does for a living’
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday rejected the report submitted by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) on last year’s Faizabad sit-in by religious zealots, terming it “unsatisfactory”.
The apex court had taken notice of the weeks-long anti-government protest and the subsequent agreement between the government and protesters.
A two-member bench of the apex court, comprising Justice Mushir Alam and Justice Qazi Faiz Eesa, resumed the hearing of a suo motu case regarding the sit-in.
“A journalist would have given more details [about the protests] than this report,” Justice Qazi Faiz Eesa remarked, ordering the country’s premier intelligence agency to submit a new report within two weeks.
He said that the intelligence agency — just like the judiciary — was “answerable to tax-payers”.
Justice Alam questioned why the ISI did not mention the source of Khadim Rizvi’s income, bank accounts and whether he pays tax or not.
“This report is frightening me,” he said.
“He [Rizvi] destroyed property worth billions yet no one knows what he does,” Justice Eesa remarked during the hearing.
When Justice Eesa inquired about the occupation of Faizabad protests’ most influential figure, Khadim Hussain Rizvi, he was told that the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYR) chief was a “religious lecturer”. Colonel Falak Naz was representing the Defence Ministry in the hearing.
“Is ‘religious lecturer’ a profession?” Justice Eesa asked, inquiring about Rizvi’s tax status and bank account.
Colonel Naz responded that Rizvi lived on donations.
“Then mention that he is being financially supported by others,” the judge said.
When Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Sohail Mahmood, who appeared on behalf of the federal government, said the ISI revealed that he is reportedly corrupt, the bench asked him to explain how he did corruption.
The court pointed out that the report did not answer the questions raised by the court and ordered the ISI to submit a new report within two weeks, while suggesting that it can conduct an in-camera hearing if a sensitive issue is involved.
The court also ordered the attorney general to appear in the next hearing which was adjourned until two weeks.
The ISI report states that the intelligence agency had recommended that the federal government avoid the use of force and resolve the issue peacefully through negotiations with TLYR. However, despite the recommendation, the government launched an operation against the sit-in as per the Islamabad High Court’s orders which sparked countrywide protests.
The complete profiles of the leadership of the protesters – Rizvi, Dr Muhammad Ashraf Asif Jalali, and Pir Muhammad Afzal Qadri – have also been attached to the 46-page report.
It terms Rizvi “reportedly corrupt” when it comes to financial matters, but also that he appears to be living within his means. It also notes that he has shown an inclination towards misuse of power, the authorities, and resources. The report also terms Rizvi’s overall reputation “unsatisfactory”.
He is also listed as being “arrogant” with his superiors, “harsh” with his subordinates, and “committed” to his cause.
As per the report, Dr Jalali is “dubious”, an “opportunist”, and a “manipulator”. His overall general reputation is also “unsatisfactory”. It also notes he violated an agreement with the Punjab government for not holding a public meeting at Nasir Bagh Lahore in connection with the Mumtaz Qadri Rehai movement. It also says he is actively involved in sectarian activities.
No negative point has been found in the profile of Muhammad Afzal Qadri.
The report further says that the Punjab government made no attempt to obstruct or negotiate with the protesters due to which TLYR was able to gain public support and sustained the sit-in for 20 days.
Regarding logistic supplies, the report mentions, the local police were neither capable nor willing to obstruct or prevent the logistic supplies.
The report blames lack of coordination between police forces of the twin cities, the inability of the Rawalpindi police to block reinforcements and live media coverage of the operation on TV as well as social media for the failure of the operation.
It further says that TLYR exploited sentiments of police personnel through their continuous speeches on loudspeakers.
As per the report, the representatives of ISI engaged both sides and asked them to sit together to resolve the issue after the federal government failed to independently contact TLYR leaders for negotiations when the dharna got prolonged.
Expressing dissatisfaction over the performance of other agencies, the ISI report says the special branch of police covered the dharna but restricted themselves to providing tactical information, strength, participation and other logistic aspects. Likewise, “Intelligence Bureau (IB) remained aloof, as no information or efforts were visible on the part of this agency”.
During a high-level meeting at the PM office on November 22, ISI was given a lead role with complete authority to negotiate.
Regarding support for protesters, the report says that generous donations by people from across society, especially the Barelvi sect, sustained the dharna. A large number of registered madaris affiliated with the group raised large sums in donations. During the dharna, many affluent persons from across the globe also contributed financially.
The report also says that the owner of the TV station Channel 92, Mian Abdul Rasheed of Faisalabad, provided food.
It also states that Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad, PML-Z chief Ejazul Haq, PTI Ulema Wing Islamabad, and PPP leader Sheikh Hameed supported the Faizabad sit-in. Also included on the list of supporters was columnist and TV commentator Oriya Maqbool Jan.
The report has also identified six lawyers and three trade union leaders as supporting the dharna without explaining how they supported the protesters.