Islamabad - The Islamabad High Court on Monday came down hard on the federal government for assigning the army role of a ‘mediator’ in the ongoing confrontation with the religious party, which was at the forefront of anti-blasphemy protest.

Hearing two petitions seeking action against those staging a prolonged sit-in at Faizabad, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui raised serious questions about role assigned to the military to end the crisis.

“Besides a number of serious objections to the terms of agreement, most alarming is that Major-Gen Faiz Hameed put a signature as one through whom the agreement [was] reached,” Justice Siddiqui noted in his order.

“It is also very strange that efforts of Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff, have been acknowledged [in the document of agreement],” it added.

Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal sought time when the court summoned the copy of agreement signed with the leadership of Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYR).

However, the Islamabad chief commissioner read out the accord as he received a copy of it on WhatsApp, on the court’s directives.

The document bore the signatures of the interior minister, Interior Secretary Arshad Mirza, TLYR chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi, two other protest leaders, and Maj-Gen Faiz Hameed – who facilitated the agreement.

“Prima facie, the role assumed by the top leadership of army is beyond the Constitution and the law of land,” Justice Shaukat observed.

He added: “Armed forces… cannot travel beyond its [constitutional] mandate.

He said “most abusive and filthy language was used” against Supreme Court judges by the protest leadership, but government and “arbitrator” [army] did not bother to persuade them to even tender an apology.

He added that “this court has serious reservations about the terms of the agreement and the mannerism in which it [has been] arrived… the federal government has to satisfy it” about role of army.

The judge directed the Attorney General of Pakistan to appear and assist the court on this point at next hearing on Dec 4.

 

The IHC in its verdict told Islamabad chief commissioner to submit his report about the conduct of clearance operation and reasons of its failure.

It also directed Intelligence Bureau’s Joint DG Anwar Ali to submit a report revealing from where the protesters brought weapons, teargas masks and other instruments.

The IB officer was directed to give in his report reasons for the failure of the police operation and tell about the aid provided to protesters when police had almost cleared Faizabad Interchange.

The court in its order also sought report about an audio wherein some high ranked army officer was explaining the army’s point of view on sit-in to a person named Saqib.

The court made it clear that the question raised by it shall not be used as an excuse to dislodge/disperse the protesters and if they wanted to carry on with the sit-in, the authorities would persuade them to shift to the Parade Ground.

The judge also tasked Barrister Zafarullah with filing a report on the incident. “He will tell us in 10 days what happened, where and when,” the judge said.

He also remarked that the government was using Zahid Hamid as a scapegoat to protect PML-N leader Anusha Rehman, who is State Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication. “In order to protect one person, the minister (Zahid) is being sacrificed,” he said.

 

 

Advocate Inamul Rahiem, the counsel for petitioner Rana Abdul Qayyum, adopted that under the Army Act, there is no provision that any army person can become a negotiator, a facilitator or a guarantor in any case what to talk of the case of terrorism between protesters and the state.

Justice Siddiqui remarked that the army chief instead of following the orders of the chief executive became a mediator. “Who is the army chief to adopt a mediator’s role?” asked the judge. “Where does the law assign this role to a general?”

Justice Siddiqui also remarked that soldiers who were inclined towards politics should turn in their weapons and join politics.

“Where is their Raddul Fasaad now? Did they not see any Fasaad (anarchy) in this protest?” the judge asked.

He told the interior minister that the administration had the right to call in the army to control an emergency situation and that the military was bound to comply.

The minister replied that during the protest and operation in Islamabad, the country’s internal security was at risk.

“There was a conspiracy to show that a nuclear-state was failing. The agreement was reached with the protesters to bring the country out of those circumstances,” Ahsan added.

The judge asked why the agreement did not carry the signatures of the chief commissioner and the IG.

“Mr Iqbal, you have embarrassed the police and the administration,” Justice Siddiqui said. “You [the institutions] are destroying the state in your bid to make each other look bad,” said the judge. “You are supporting the impression that the army is the cure for all ills.”

The judge said that he knew that these remarks could cost him his life or add him to the list of missing persons.

“The army’s role as a mediator between the law violators and law enforcing agencies is unacceptable.”

Earlier, the court expressed its annoyance when the interior minister failed to appear. The court adjourned for a break, ordering the interior minister to show up within 15 minutes.

Islamabad Police IG Khalid Khattak, Chief Commissioner Zulfiqar Ahmed Bhutta and Deputy Commissioner Mushtaq were also present in the court .