CITY NOTES: Bail, terrorism and contempt together

The good news is that Shahbaz Gill has got bail from the high court. Even better news is that he was not immediately rearrested on getting bail. That might have to do with the cases against him having been registered in Punjab police stations, and Ch Pervaiz Elahi being Punjab CM now. Dr Gill won’t be arrested not because Jats can’t be arrested, but because he belongs to the PTI. Not that PTI members are immune, but because the cases against him, valid as they might be, were registered because of his party affiliation.

Bail doesn’t mean you’re riff of the case, but it does mean you have a very good chance of being acquitted. Of course, Shahbaz Gill could make a mistake and panic, and jump bail so as to go to the USA, where his wife and family is, not to mention the sister who made an impassioned appeal for him. Why jump bail when it is the first step on the road to acquittal? Of course, there are rumours flying around that the Punjab government might fall, in which case Dr Gill might find that he will be plunged into the life of as a fugitive. Unless he does the sensible thing and surrenders to the police.

He might want to look at the example of Mian Nawaz Sharif, who might be the PM’s older brother, but whose heart skips a beat every time he sees a bobby.  So far, none has come for him, but he is a fugitive from justice, and has been declared an absconder over here. So Shahbaz Gill should comply with the terms of his bail, and avoid being declared an absconder.

He could take a leaf out of Imran Khan’s book. Imran initially tried to oil out of going before the FIA JIT investigating the case against him for terrorism for allegedly threatening both Judge Zeba Chaudhry, who had heard Dr Gill’s case, and the IGP Islamabad. But he went in the end, just as he went before the Islamabad High Court, which has held him in contempt for his remarks.

Imran has got a novel idea of how to answer a contempt notice. Contempt notices are only sent his when the judge is convinced that the offence has occurred. All that is left is to conduct a trial. Even where the defendant wishes to contest the charge, he is supposed to begin with an unconditional apology and by throwing himself on the mercy of the court. I’m sure that’s what his lawyers probably told him. However, it seems he was not listening, and offered no apology. Personally, I don’t think he’s any sort of ladla. I think he just got first an order to file a fresh reply (that is, to apologize abjectly), and an indictment on September 22 to give the court time to recover from the shock.

Meanwhile, you’ve got the PTI decrying the attempt by the PML(N) to ‘weaponize’ religion. Isuspect Federal Minister Javed Latif may have been raising the anti-Qadiani spectre mainly because he doesn’t have a portfolio. You see, if he had one, he would make some announcement related to his ministry. Often, that would be the only evidence to prove to his constituents that he was alive.

I wonder at the charge used. It’s been used against the current COAS, and I remember it used against Ziaul Haq. Anti-Qadiani riots were used in 1953 to impose a mini-Martial Law in Lahore, which was said to be a dress rehearsal for 1958. Personally, I don’t think 1953 was a dress rehearsal for anything, but I’m sure some bright young staff officer dug out the 1953 file in 1958.

Does anyone remember the first Faizabad dharna? Which led to the Law Minister, Zahid Hamid, having to resign? Or PML(N) MNA (and Mian Nawaz Sharif’s son-in-law) Capt (retd) Safdar,who made not-so-veiled attacks on the COAS?

That particular card has been kept up the sleeve until now, while Imran has been busy promising to build the Riasat-e-Madina. Not only that, he also called on his supportersto wage a jihad on opponents. He also spoke of his own side as being Haq (Truth) and the other side Batil (Evil). I suppose he has a right to complain, but he should remember who set this cat among the pigeons first.




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