Faizabad sit-in: SC orders state to prosecute those advocating hate, terrorism

Faizabad sit-in: SC orders state to prosecute those advocating hate, terrorism
In this file photo, smoke rises from a blocked flyover as protesters from the Tehreek-i-Labaik Yah Rasool Allah Pakistan (TLYRAP) religious group clash with police in Islamabad on Nov. 25, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 06 February 2019

Faizabad sit-in: SC orders state to prosecute those advocating hate, terrorism

Faizabad sit-in: SC orders state to prosecute those advocating hate, terrorism
  • Election Commission says it will do everything in its capacity under law
  • Protestors destroy property worth Rs163mn during 20-day demonstrations

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s top court on Wednesday directed the federal and provincial governments to initiate criminal proceedings against those issuing harmful fatwas or rulings and, in turn, advocating extremism and terrorism through public rallies.
“We direct the federal and provincial governments to monitor those advocating hate, extremism and terrorism and prosecute the perpetrators in accordance with the law,” a two-member bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Mushir Alam wrote in a 43-page verdict.
The court issued a detailed verdict in a case which was filed to highlight how public life was disrupted across the country during a 20-day sit-in by far-right party Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) in November 2017.
During the sit-in, the party had occupied the Faizabad interchange which connects Rawalpindi and Islamabad, virtually paralyzing public life in both the cities.
The TLP leadership took to the streets following an amendment in the Elections Act 2017, deeming that the Khatam-e-Nabuwat oath was modified deliberately as part of a larger conspiracy. The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, which was the ruling party at the time, termed the amendment as a “clerical error” and rectified it through an Act of Parliament.
“Protestors who obstruct people’s right to use roads and damage or destroy property must be proceeded against in accordance with the law and held accountable,” the court said in its verdict.
In a reference to the edicts issued by the TLP leaders during their sit-in, the court has also directed the government to prosecute “a person issuing an edict or fatwa, which harms another or puts another in harm’s way.”
“TLP sowed discord and dissension, it resorted to mob-rule, rioting and the destruction of property,” the court ruled.
The apex court has also directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to proceed against the TLP for not accounting “for its funds and election expenses …. as the constitution empowers the election commission to get requisite information from any executive authority.”
“The responsibilities placed on the election commission by the constitution and the law must be fulfilled, they are not optional,” the court said.
Muhammad Nadeem Qasim, additional director-general ECP, said that the ECP had fully cooperated with the Supreme Court during the case and furnished all required documents as well.
“Our law department is examining the verdict and we will do whatever is needed under the law,” he told Arab News while giving no specific details about the action which will be taken against the TLP’s registration as a political party.
The court also noted that the “ambitious leadership” of the TLP provoked “religious sentiments, stoked the flames of hatred, abused, resorted to violence and destroyed property worth 163,952,000 rupees (Rs163 million).”
About the media coverage extended to the TLP, the court said it “received prime-time free media coverage and publicity, transforming it overnight into a household name.”
Analysts and legal experts said that the apex court’s verdict has charted out a framework for the government and other state institutions to handle the elements which resort to public rallies and violence in the name of religion.
“The apex court verdict will now act as a precedent to move against hardliners and fundamentalists who threaten the state organs with fatwas and demand submission before their demands,” Sharafat Ali, a senior advocate in the high court, told Arab News.