On Friday, Information Minister Pervez Rashid filed a petition in the Lahore High Court (LHC) challenging the orders given by a Session court in Lahore. On 17 August, a Session court judge had ordered the SHO of Faisal Town Police Station to register a FIR against 21 persons from Punjab Police and PML-N, including PM Nawaz Sharif and Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif, over the June 17 Model Town incident, which left at least 12 Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) supporters dead and several injured. Now, the accused are well within their rights to challenge the Session court’s decision. The law permits them. What the law does not allow them to do is defy specific court orders simply because they disapprove of them. That is exactly what has been happening at the Faisal Town Police Station, and there should be no doubt that the PML-N has everything to do with it.

For a good six days, the Session court verdict remained unchallenged. What that means is that the SHO was bound by law to register the FIR unless ordered otherwise by a superior court. For six days, the SHO refused and remained absent, in direct violation of court orders. Furthermore, as per the law, the SHO is neither the only one authorized to register the FIR nor required to be present at the time. Why then were the orders not followed? Why are they still not being followed since the LHC is yet to decide on Pervez Rashid’s petition? If not the court, whose orders is the SHO following? Such blatant disregard for law by the powerful is the reason why the public has little faith in the justice system. This is why Tahir-ul-Qadri sells. This is where he is right, and the government is dead wrong.

Does CM Shahbaz Sharif really expect the public to believe that the Punjab Police is acting independently and according to law? Is he above the law? Is the Prime Minister? As far as this case is concerned, its clear that they really are, and refuse to follow what they preach. That they want to make laws but not be subject to them. That 12 people can be killed and many others wounded in broad daylight and even a FIR will not be lodged against the accused. The Sharif brothers cannot be allowed to take cover behind the wall of democracy. The struggle is for a democratic system where the rule of law is guaranteed, not for safeguarding the interests of some political family. Before anything else, the LHC should ask Pervez Rashid to explain the reasons for failing to follow the Session court’s orders, and issue contempt notices if his answers fail to satisfy. Then, we can plan where to go from there.