NANKANA SAHIB: A day after Information Minister Shibli Faraz hinted at legal action against former National Assembly (NA) speaker Ayaz Sadiq over his controversial claims regarding the circumstances surrounding the release of Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, Interior Minister Brigadier (r) Ijaz Shah on Saturday said that the federal government has received several petitions seeking charges under Article 6 on the Constitution, which defines the crime of high treason.
Addressing a ceremony in Nankana Sahab, Shah said that the petitions, received in Islamabad and Lahore, have been sent for legal review.
“Ayaz Sadiq has passed a very wrong statement about Indian Pilot Abhinandan and the army chief,” Shah said. Slamming the opposition party, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the interior minister dismissed the allegations levelled against the Pakistan Army “from abroad”, and swore that all this was an attempt to secure the opposition’s looted wealth.
Two senior PML-N lawmakers had earlier accused the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led government of taking the decision to release Indian pilot Abhinandan under pressure. “Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was present in the meeting, which Imran Khan had refused to attend,” Ayaz had said in parliament on Wednesday, adding that Qureshi had “begged the opposition to release Abhinandan or else India would attack Pakistan at 9 pm”.
“India never attacked Pakistan but the government nonetheless handed over Abhinandan to Indian authorities,” Ayaz had said.
The comments had kicked off a furore in Indian media, as channel upon channel and publication upon publication seized on Sadiq’s statement, misrepresented parts of it, and painted the picture that India had somehow prevailed over Pakistan in securing the downed pilot’s release.
In his defence, Ayaz lambasted the Indian media for “distorting” his comments. “One thing is clear: Abhinandan did not come to Pakistan to distribute sweets; he had attacked Pakistan,” the PML-N leader said.
However, the former NA speaker, in a pointed attack directed at Prime Minister Imran Khan, also asked if the decision to release Abhinandan was made “on dictation” from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
On Friday, Faraz had hinted at legal action against Ayaz for accusing the incumbent government of caving to Indian pressure. “What Ayaz Sadiq said is not forgivable,” he wrote in a tweet.
“Now the law will take its course,” the information minister asserted, adding that “weakening the state” is an “unpardonable offense”, and Ayaz and his followers would be punished for it.