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How govt would secure country if it could not even secure federal capital: SC

01 December, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: Expressing dismay over handling of Faizabad sit-in by the religious parties and a consequent botched operation, the Supreme Court questioned on Thursday how the government would secure the country if it could not even secure the federal capital.

A two-member Supreme Court bench comprising Justice Mushir Alam and Justice Qazi Faez Isa posed this question while hearing a plea on the disturbances caused to the public life due to the 21-day-long sit-in of a religious party in Faizabad, which later ended after the government struck an agreement with the protesting party.

The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Intelligence Bureau (IB) submitted their sealed reports in the court through Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Sohail Mehmood on the Faizabad sit-in. The court termed the reports dissatisfactory and directed the ISI to make more efforts and submit a detailed report, covering all the aspects.

The Islamabad police had submitted a report on the Faizabad operation on Wednesday. The DAG told the court that he had received an unsigned report of the Punjab government over the losses suffered during the sit-in.

Referring to the unsigned report, he said the losses incurred stood at Rs 146 million. The court however rejected the estimated losses terming them unauthentic. To a court query that whether cases were registered against the protesters, who possessed explosive material, the DAG stated that 27 cases were registered against such protesters. The court also sought the details of casualties and the wounded.

“Where does Islam permit damaging public and private property, bloodshed and creating troubles for others,” Justice Isa noted, adding that Islam had spread in the region due to the strong character and strength of Muslims and not through riots and wars.

The DAG requested the court to adjourn the hearing until Tuesday, as the attorney general was not available. However, the court declined his request and directed him to argue the matter.

Expressing dismay over the role of ISI and IB, Justice Isa asked what the agencies were doing. Speaking to the ISI representative present in the court, he observed that “everything does not stand part of a political agenda”, thus other aspects of the matter should also have been detected.

He said the army was also part of the government and it could not be considered separated from the government. He said neither Islam nor Pakistan were served during the sit-in. Hinting at the army’s role in resolving the issue, Justice Isa noted that “if someone played a role in resolving the sit-in, it was a good thing”.

After going through the Islamabad police report, Justice Isa wondered from where and how did the protesters get modern riot equipment and even tear-gas shells.

Justice Alam noted that it was the prime responsibility of the ISI to protect the state, as the money of taxpayers was being spent on it. “Why the sit-in protest was still going on in Lahore,” the court inquired. The court also expressed dismay over the role of media in the sit-in and wondered why the government did not take any action against the media, which played a negative role in the matter of sit-in.

The court maintained that it seemed as if the job of media was just to defame the people and create havoc and chaos. It also inquired the source of funding of TV channels, adding that it could summon the list of owners of each channel.

Justice Alam noted that the ISI report mentioned the name of a TV channel, however, the court did not want to disclose it in the open court.

The court also criticised the role of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) and warned that PEMRA should fulfil its responsibilities; otherwise the court could take notice against it on its own. Justice Isa noted that although an independent media was pivotal for the development of the country, it should behave responsibly and follow the law. To a court query, the DAG stated that about 90 TV channels were currently operating in the country. The court asked the media to also portray the true image of Islam as well. Meanwhile, the court adjourned the hearing without fixing any next date and observed that it would give its decision on the matter.

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