News Analysis |
The sit-in staged by scores of religious groups in September last year, in the Faizabad area of Islamabad, is denting the credibility of armed forces and spy agencies of the country. This is despite the fact that the protest was against the controversial clause of the Election Act 2017, introduced by the government.
The federal government passed the Election Act 2017, in a hurry, to re-elect Nawaz Sharif as the party president, after the apex court disqualified him as the Prime Minister of the country in the Panama Papers case. However, the clause related to the Khatm–e- Nabuuwat (finality of Prophethood PBUH) proved to be a tough nut to crack for the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz led government and now for the establishment.
This has raised a lot of concern about whether there was a bigger plot behind the whole exercise or the criticism randomly turned towards the establishment.
Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah, along with other religious factions, staged a 22 days sit-in in Islamabad before an operation by the administration, which miserably failed. The protesters vacated the place after an agreement brokered by the army. The post-sit-in scenario turned squarely against the armed forces and specifically, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), as the role of the spy agency was questioned repeatedly.
A report by the spy agency, in which, the source of income of Khadim Hussain Rizvi was not specified, was rejected by the Supreme Court’s Justice Qazi Faez Isa as ‘unsatisfactory’. Although the report had shown suspicions about the financial dealings of the religious cleric, the, ‘no smoking gun’ was produced before the court.
Another video, in which a Rangers official was seen distributing cash among the left out protesters also went viral on the social media, however, it was clarified that the money was not distributed from the national kitty and the official had himself helped the protesters to ease their journey back home.
Justice Qazi Faez Isa, who is a member of the two-judge bench in the suo moto case, regarding the use of abusive language in the protest, has fired a broadside at the effectiveness of ISI in the latest hearing on Wednesday. The apex court judge blatantly clarified that no one should consider themselves above the law, in a direct reference to the top spy agency.
The religious groups rescued themselves from the controversy and took permission for the use of four loudspeakers in mosques while succeeding in disposing of the cases filed against them.
Justice Isa, who is the judge of the Balochistan High Court and Supreme Court also challenged the army, stating that the army did not establish Pakistan. The apex court judge visibly seemed perturbed over the role of armed forces and remarked that Quaid-I-Azam was not surrounded by a brigade but a leadership willing to create Pakistan.
Besides the apex court judge, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of Islamabad High Court, also vent out his anger against the armed forces, but his criticism turned towards the commercial entities owned by Pak Army. The judge, who is a staunch advocate of Khatam-e-Nabuuwat, also announced to issue a notice to the defense secretary over the matter, decrying the dual role adopted by armed forces, of being Pakistan’s Army and a commercial model.
In the earlier hearings, Justice Siddiqui had heaped scorn on the civilian government as well as the army for the role of ‘mediator’ played by the latter to end the sit-in. Justice Siddiqui had directly pointed out that General Qamar Javed Bajwa, the army chief, became a mediator instead of following the orders of the chief executive, although Major-Gen Faiz Hameed of ISI had put his signature on the agreement, which had led to the culmination of the protest.
This is despite the fact that the protest was against the controversial clause of the Election Act 2017, introduced by the government.
Three main players appear visible in the scenario following the Faizabad sit-in; the religious groups, the civilian government, and the establishment. The religious groups rescued themselves from the controversy and took permission for the use of four loudspeakers in mosques while succeeding in disposing of the cases filed against them. Meanwhile, the civilian government also waded through the controversy by the lone casualty of Zahid Hamid, the law minister.
However, the establishment, further partitioned into the armed forces and spy agencies, seem to be on the target to this day. Ironically, the same establishment was criticized, without any evidence, for having a dubious role in the staging of sit-ins. Even their role for termination of the protest was perceived as shady and months after the protest, they are facing the ire of superior courts.
With this in mind, Khadim Hussain Rizvi, who spearheaded the protest is evading arrest successfully, and the government is also functioning smoothly but, the reputation of armed forces is being hurt with each passing day. This has raised a lot of concern about whether there was a bigger plot behind the whole exercise or the criticism randomly turned towards the establishment.