Faizabad protesters guilty of blasphemy, rules IHC

11:21 AM | 4 Dec, 2017
Faizabad protesters guilty of blasphemy, rules IHC
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ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday declared that the Faizabad protesters committed blasphemy, pointing to the language used by the protest leaders and participants during the sit-in.

Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui once again showed his dismay over the agreement signed between the federal government and protesters following a weeks-long sit-in in Islamabad and deadly clashes across the country.

Hearing a case on Monday regarding the Khatam e Nabuwwat clause of the recently passed Election Act 2017, the judge remarked that the state of Pakistan surrendered to the sit-in protesters at Faizabad interchange, and that each section of the agreement between the protesters and the state was unconstitutional.

“The state caved in before the protesters and not a single clause of the agreement between the government and the religious group was according to the Constitution,” observed Justice Siddiqui.

On November 6, hundreds of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLY) supporters camped at the Faizabad Interchange in Islamabad calling for the resignation of Law Minister Zahid Hamid, who they blamed for a hastily-abandoned change in the oath of elected representatives. The group called off its nationwide protests on November 27, after the government met its demand and accepted Hamid’s resignation.

The IHC bench, on Monday, said the court expected the Army to probe into Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s name being used in the agreement.

The bench observed that the legal standing of the agreement brokered by a senior official of Pak Army, needed to be reviewed.

Justice Siddiqui stated that as the Supreme Court was hearing a similar case related to the sit-in, the IHC will not give its decision on the case while hastening to add that he would not let this case close if the loss of police was not compensated.

The high court, which had been questioning the role of the armed forces as mediator in the entire episode, gave two options to Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf who was present in the courtroom - to decide whether the matter related to the agreement should be referred to the parliament or the government top officials, including the army, should deliberate over the legality of the agreement. The AGP opted for the second option.

Regarding the killing of a policeman linked to the Islamabad police, the judge questioned whether the official was not part of the state.

He questioned that if he was injured by the protesters how the state could sign an agreement on his behalf.

Justice Siddiqui said, “Nobody’s life is safe in the country.” The IHC judge also ordered for the AGP to stop the issuance of fatwas (religious decrees), from mosques and madrassas, declaring anyone a non-Muslim.

The hearing was adjourned after the arguments.

During the last hearing, Justice Siddiqui had censured the government for signing the agreement instead of launching an operation besides expressing his displeasure over the role of a senior official of Pak Army Major General Faiz Hameed who was a signatory to the agreement.