ISLAMABAD - Another day of official statements and court orders passed and the latest “final” deadline of Friday midnight lapsed but Faizabad protesters remained unimpressed.

The forceful disconnection of twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi for around three weeks by hundreds of zealots shows how effectively religion can be used to turn a nuclear state into a banana state.

The authorities had reportedly deferred until today morning their “action” to disperse the protesters. At the time of filing of this report, at 1am, the officials were once again holding “final” talks with the hardline clerics.

All this came after the Islamabad High Court on Friday declared that the sit-in leaders were apparently “involved in act of terrorism” and issued a contempt notice to Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal over his failure to disperse the protesters.

Religious groups, particularly Tehreek-i-Khatm-i-Nabuwat, Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah and Sunni Tehreek Pakistan, are staging a sit-in demanding the sacking of Law Minister Zahid Hamid and strict action against those behind the amendment to the Khatm-i-Nabuwat oath in the Elections Act 2017.

On complaints of the citizens, the superior courts have declared the act of the protesters illegal and repeatedly asked government to disperse them, but it has done nothing citing fears of bloodshed in case of an action.

But both Supreme Court and Islamabad High Court on Friday, once again flayed the authorities over their inaction, pointing out that there were many non-violent ways to clear the interchange.

Later in the evening, Islamabad district administration issued a “final warning” to the participants of sit-in protesters to voluntarily disperse by midnight or get ready to face action.

In the fresh notification issued by the district magistrate, district magistrate recalled that the protesters have been asked to disperse thrice before but to no avail. “The Parade Ground located near the Faizabad Interchange has been allocated for protests,” it said.

The notification warned “if the participants [of sit-in] do not vacate the area by midnight, an operation will be launched against them... [And] if an operation is launched, the onus will be on the participants and leaders of the protest.”

Hearing two petitions seeking legal action against the protesters, IHC judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui issued a show cause notice to Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal for his failure to implement earlier court orders to clear Faizabad Interchange, summoning him to appear in person at the next hearing on Nov 27.

Justice Siddiqui asked from Islamabad Chief Commissioner Zulfiqar Haider why the court orders were not executed. Haider told the court that the interior minister stopped the ICT administration from taking any action so that negotiation process may continue.

Justice Siddiqui noted in his verdict, “It is beyond the understanding that how a federal minister or even the prime minister can sit over an order passed by the court of competent jurisdiction, unless not reversed by the appellate court. This clearly is an effort to undermine the authority of the court and blatant act of contempt.”

The judge added, “Let the show cause notice be issued to Ashan Iqbal, Federal Minister for Interior, to explain that under which authority of law, he stopped the administration from acting upon the order passed by this court and why contempt of court proceedings may not be initiated against him.”



‘Act of terrorism’

The court order termed the sit-in an “anti-state activity” and said that calling the judges of the superior judiciary and other respectable persons with names was intolerable.

The court observed that patients were dying for want of access to hospitals, traders were crying for lack of business activities, students were being deprived of their right to education and the right of free movement of almost six million people of the twin cities usurped by the dictatorial act of one person and the passive approach of law enforcing agencies was adding miseries of citizens.

“The leadership of dharna, prima facie, is involved in act of terrorism, therefore, all institutions of the state are expected to act in unison.”



Politicking not allowed on Khatm e Nabuwat

The court judgment made clear that “the faith of Khatm-e-Nabuwat (PBUH) is of every Muslim and a few persons cannot be allowed to claim the exclusive right for its protection.”

The IHC bench also directed the registrar office to fix the petitions of Maulana Allah Wasaya and Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah on Monday [Nov 27], instead of Nov 29. In the two petitions, the petitioners have asked the court to direct the respondents to publicise the report of a committee headed by Senator Raja Zafarul Haq about the tampering in election laws regarding Khatm-e-Nabuwat.

Justice Siddiqui also directed interior secretary to ensure production of Zafarul Haq committee report before the court. The bench directed that the report shall not be made public until the next hearing but the persons on whom the responsibility has been fixed shall remain within Pakistan.

The IHC bench observed, “There is a serious need for our sensitive institutions to dispel this impression that the activity at Faizabad Interchange is sponsored by the intelligence agencies, therefore, sector commander of the ISI and Intelligence Bureau director general are directed to appear in person on the next date. Chief Commissioner, ICT has submitted before the court that all practical efforts shall be made to enforce the writ of the state as it is the requirement of law.”

The bench said that in order to protect the rights of six million citizens of twin cities, all lawful steps be taken to clear Faizabad Interchange. ICT Chief Commissioner further submitted that this was a totally incorrect perception that the ICT administration lacks capacity and will perform its duties related to law and order.

However, the judgment said, “It is made clear that the force deputed by the ICT administration shall not use “firearms” during clearance operation if required to be conducted.”



‘Act of terror’ goes on amid dialogue