LAHORE - The government is very sensitive about its mandate. The prime minister is not willing to step down despite five weeks of continuous sit-ins staged in Islamabad by both the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf and the Pakistan Awami Tehreek. But to what extent it respects the mandate of courts was seen last week.

The Lahore High Court passed an order that workers of Pakistan Awami Tehreek detained across the province should be set free. An additional home secretary had assured the court on Friday that the PAT workers would be released immediately. Till the filing of this report on Sunday evening, the order was not implemented. The PAT has now filed a contempt petition against the Punjab government. 

The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf also filed a separate petition in the LHC pleading that workers of both PTI and PAT who had been kept in illegal detention by Punjab police should be released. Upon which, the full bench issued notice to Inspector General Police Punjab for September 22 (today).

The PAT claims that over 70 of its workers were arrested by the police without any justification. The PTI has given no specific number of its workers apprehended by the law enforcement agencies.  The PTI and the PAT are fighting a legal battle in the Lahore High Court, but their leaders have been staying put in Islamabad for the past 39 days.

While the PAT-PTI duo is continuing its struggle against the government, an inquiry report prepared by a single-judge Inquiry tribunal comprising Justice Ali Baqar Najfi over the Model Town killings is a subject of discussions at many a forum.  It is said that the report pins the responsibility of killings on the Punjab big guns, but the ruling party denies the assertion.  It was amid this controversy that Zubair Khan Niazi of PTI filed a writ petition in the LHC pleading that inquiry report be published, so the people could know the reality. Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah heard the petition. The judge, because of the important legal questions raised by petitioner’s counsel, referred the petition to the chief justice with the request that a larger bench be constituted to take a decision on this important petition. Needless to point out that in the past though several commissions were set up on different subjects, hardly ever their findings were made public. If the report of the Model Town tragedy is released, it would set a healthy precedent.

Sources close to former law minister Rana Sanaullah Khan say the leader from Faisalabad plans to move the Supreme Judicial Council against the tribunal judge.

He has expressed reservations about the conduct of the judge and the contents of his report. Whatever the final decision of the former law minister, an Anti-Terrorism court framed charges against Gullu Butt, the man who almost immortalised himself by smashing vehicles parked outside Idara Minhajul Quran right before the TV camera lights.  The man has brought a bad name to the rulers who, incidentally, also belong to the Butt family. Now whenever some incident of vandalism takes place, the perpetrator is immediately branded as Gullu Butt.

On September 19, as the proceedings commenced in an anti-terrorism court, a police officer told the judge that Gullu was responsible for smashing vehicles and his challan had already been submitted. Hearing this, the judge handed over a charge sheet to Gullu Butt asking him to give his point of view on whether he had committed this crime. Gullu pleaded not guilty. Upon which, the judge asked the prosecution to produce the witnesses on next date of hearing. The court will resume hearing on September 24.

The local government elections have not been held in Punjab, as also in some other provinces, for about seven years.  In the absence of this lowest tier of government, solution of people's problems at local level has become impossible. A law firm has taken the matter to the Lahore High Court with the prayer that the relevant authorities be directed to comply with their constitutional obligations in this regard.  As the petition came up for hearing, the court asked the Election Commission of Pakistan and Advocate General Punjab to assist it on the subject and the implementation of Article 62, 63 of the Constitution.

The Judicial Activism Penal, the petitioner, argued that the delaying in the LB polls had no legal justification and was causing serious damage to what it called the nursery of politics.   The counsel argued that SC had already ordered the government to announce the date for local bodies’ elections but nothing had been done so far.  The government's failure to take steps in accordance with the court orders, the petitioner said, was tantamount to committing contempt of court. No date has been set for the next hearing.