SC asks ISI, IB to be serious on Faizabad sit-in
ISLAMABAD – The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the officials of top intelligence agencies, IB and ISI, to ensure their presence on the next hearing as they do not want to get secondhand information.
A two-member bench hearing a suo motu notice raised vital questions about the sit-in, which had not so far been considered by the government.
The bench said they were against bloodshed and wanted peaceful resolution to the problem, but were only concerned about the free movement of citizens, which is enshrined in the constitution of Pakistan. The bench also expressed grief over the death of a child.
The Islamabad advocate general said an eight-year-old child died as he could not be taken to hospital for medical treatment on time owing to blockage of roads due to the sit-in. He added 18 FIRs have been registered and 159 protesters arrested so far.
Justice Qazi Faez Isa asked the advocate general where the writ of the state was. “Has the protest area been cordoned off well? He said people from sit-in site can come out, but can they be allowed to enter. If the area is seriously cordoned off, how can they join the protesters?” he said.
The judge asked the advocate general from where electricity is supplied to the site. “Why is it not disconnected and how are the leaders of Tehreek Labbaak Ya Rasool Allah allowed to use loudspeaker or megaphone and from where is food supplied to them and who is bearing their expenses?” the court questioned.
At the outset of the proceedings, the attorney general for Pakistan submitted a report on behalf of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in a sealed envelope.
Col (r) Falak Naz said: “I am from the Ministry of Defence and representing ISI.” He told the court that they have given background of the protesters, reasons and how they managed to stay at Faizabad for 18 days along with the recommendations to resolve the issue.
The bench expressed dismay over the report. Justice Faez said there is nothing new in the agencies’ report, which is claimed to be a secret document, except four names that have already appeared in the media. He said the performance of intelligence agencies is not up to the mark as there is no depth in their report.
Justice Faez said whether the agencies have tried to find out the source of livelihood of the Tehreek Labbaak Ya Rasool Allah leaders as to what business or job they are doing. He asked Col Falak to submit a comprehensive report in this connection.
Justice Faez further asked whether someone is behind them or not, what their motives are, who the beneficiaries of the protest are and what details the authorities have about their bank accounts.
Justice Mushir Alam directed the authorities to take some positive actions. Justice Qazi said they needed a report not based on media accounts.
AGP Ashtar Ausaf said: “We are trying to resolve the issue through negotiations.” He said concrete measures against the protesters would be shared in the chamber. Justice Faez told him to submit the information in writing. Upon that the AGP said it should not be part of the record. Justice Faez said: “There is no need to be apologetic if you are right.”
The court noted that sensitive offices like GHQ are close to the sit-in site. Justice Faez asked who will be responsible if the worst scenario takes place.
He said: “Although the protesters are using derogatory language against the SC, we would like to win them over through a divine message. Almighty Allah guides them and me as He says: We greet them and give them a message of peace. However, I am grieved over the soul of the eight-year-old child. Our hearts are beating for the citizens of Pakistan.” Justice Faez asked the authorities to become true servants of people. “I am pointing finger at myself as well,” he added.
Justice Faez said, “Fitna Fasaad fil Arz is the biggest crime as it disturbs the social order and life. He questioned why the protesters messages are not being blocked. The attorney general said the PTA is doing it. Justice Qazi said the language being used by the leaders of the sit-in is not reflective of Islam.
“Why is the media giving the sit-in so much coverage? Where is the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra)?” he asked.
The case was adjourned until next Thursday.