News Analysis |
The Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan on Monday rejected the report submitted by Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) on the Faizabad sit-in case and has declared it unsatisfactory. Justice Qazi Faez Isa, one of the two presiding judges in the case, was appalled at the report and remarked, “This report is deeply unsettling: it has been prepared by one of the premier agencies of the country, yet a journalist could have given more details than this report.”
Justice Isa inquired about the occupation of Khadim Hussain Rizvi, the leader of the Faizabad sit-in, from the representative of the Defense Ministry, Colonel Falak Naz. He informed the court that Rizvi was a ‘religious lecturer’. “Is ‘religious lecturer’ a profession?” Justice Isa asked. The court was later told that Rizvi lived on donations on which Justice Isa rebuked the colonel for not stating the facts clearly. He ordered the ISI to submit another report within two weeks and clarify the questions asked by the SC.
Tehreek-e-Labbaik supporters took to the streets and blocked the Faizabad interchange on 6th November after the government failed to meet their demands. They wanted the Law Minister Zahid Hamid to resign for an amendment in a clause pertaining to the Finality of Prophet (PBUH). The government failed to pacify the protesters even after repeated attempts. The protest got out of the hands of the civilian government after a botched operation. The government invoked the Article 245 of the Constitution and called the military for help. The military refused to use force against the protesters, later the Law Minister Zahid Hamid had to resign to end the 22 days long sit-in.
ATC orders arrest of Khadim Hussain Rizvi
An Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) has ordered the arrest of Khadim Hussain Rizvi and Afzal Qadri on Monday in the Faizabad sit-in case. Rizvi is wanted by the ATC on a number of cases, one of which is the death of a minor who failed to reach the hospital because of traffic congestion caused by the blockage of Faizabad interchange by TLY (Tehreek-i-Labbaik) protestors. The two TLY leaders failed to appear before the court even after repeated summons.
On 5th March, the ATC declared Rizvi and Qadri as absconders in the case for failing to appear. They had ordered them to appear before the court within 30 days but the two totally ignored the summons and failed to file even a response. Rizvi will be declared a proclaimed offender if he still fails to make an appearance.
Is the government backing down on its deal with Rizvi?
A deal was signed between TLY and the government on 27th November 2017 to end the Faizabad dharna. The third clause of the agreement stated that “All activists of TLYRA, who have been arrested/detained since the start of Dharna (sit-in) from November 6, should be released within three days while cases against them be withdrawn”. According to this clause, all cases against the TLY should be withdrawn but the ATC case paints a different story.
Read more: Were the protestors in Faizabad peaceful?
The government has been long criticized for its inaction against the perpetrators of the Faizabad sit-in who disrupted public peace for over three weeks and cause damage worth billions of rupees. Legal experts believe that any amnesty schemes offered by the government to any individual or organization are not covered under the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997. So any action taken against Rizvi and TLY in the ATC would be legal and cannot be eliminated because of the sit-in agreement. However, the TLY supporters might take the streets again if their leader is arrested by the government.
Misunderstanding or intentional negligence?
First, in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) and now in the Supreme Court (SC), the ISI has failed to give a satisfactory response to the questions asked by the courts and the people of Pakistan. Who is Rizvi? What is TLY? Where are they getting their funding from? Who sent them? Were they part of a greater agenda? These questions are on the minds of every individual in Pakistan, or at least every individual who was personally affected by the Faizabad sit-in.
The Raja Zafarul Haq report was submitted to the IHC on 20th February after a vehement demand by the Court but despite that, the report has not been opened or at least made public yet. The TLY leadership, IHC’s Justice Shaukat Siddiqui, and the general populace repeatedly demanded the report be made public.
The whole Faizabad episode is still a mystery to the entire nation even after 4 months. The only party that can reveal its details is playing delay tactics in the Court. And even on one instance in which some details regarding the impetus behind the Faizabad sit-in were obtained by the court, they decided not to share it with the public. Civil society experts demand that since the Constitution of Pakistan grants the right to information to every citizen, so whatever is happening behind closed doors should be made public knowledge.