The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday, while hearing a case on the Faizabad sit-in that took place last year, expressed its displeasure over a lack of follow-up on directives issued to various parties and warned that it would serve officials concerned contempt of court notices if they do not comply with orders by Feb 12.
The court had earlier ordered the Deputy Attorney General Arshad Kiyani to submit a copy of the Raja Zafarul Haq committee report which sought to fix responsibility for the introduction of a controversial amendment to the Khatm-i-Nabuwwat declaration for electoral candidates in the Elections Act, 2017.
Additionally, Defence Secretary retired Lt-Gen Zamirul Hassan Shah and Director General (DG) Intelligence Bureau (IB) Aftab Sultan were also ordered to submit reports on the Faizabad sit-in.
The changes to the Khatm-i-Nabuwwat declaration ─ despite being reversed soon after they came to light last year ─ were protested by members of various religious parties, including the Tehreek-i-Labbaik (TLY), which led a sit-in at Islamabad’s busy Faizabad Interchange for 22 days in Nov 2017, hindering daily life in the twin cities.
Read more: TLY chief Khadim Rizvi orders followers to end sit-ins across country after govt gives in to demands
The sit-in finally ended after top civil-military officials mediated with the protesters following a botched operation, signing off a number of demands. In the agreement, both the sides expressed their gratitude to Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Bajwa, saying the agreement came about as a result of efforts made by the army chief and his team.
Deputy Attorney General Arshad Kiyani told the court today that the Raja Zafarul Haq report was not submitted in court because it is missing the signature of one member of the committee.
Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, who has been hearing the case, had earlier ordered a probe into how the name of the army chief was used in the agreement, and to identify the people responsible for ‘bringing embarrassment to the army’.
Explore: List of demands put forward by TLY and accepted by govt for ending the Faizabad protest
In today’s hearing, the judge once again ordered Defence Secretary Shah to submit a report on the Faizabad sit-in, questioning again why COAS Bajwa’s name was used in the agreement. Justice Siddiqui ordered the defence secretary to answer the question in his report.
Justice Siddiqui noted that TLY chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi had “maligned the court during the sit-in and spoke against the chief justice”, despite which the officials had agreed to their demands and an army general had even signed off on them.
The DG IB was also reprimanded by the court for not presenting his report on audio recordings from the sit-in which went viral on social media.
“The court had asked the IB to find out who is speaking in the audio recordings,” Justice Aziz told the DG IB, who replied saying that they do not have the necessary equipment to identify the people speaking in the recording.
“If your department does not have the equipment, where can it be found in Pakistab,” Justice Aziz asked and was told that the DG IB does not know where the equipment will be found.
“You can give the order that the IB be provided the latest equipment so that we may be able to analyse the voice in the viral audio recording,” the DG said.
“Why should I not order that the departments that are adding undue strain on the economy be shut down,” Justice Aziz retorted while adding that the ISI already wants that the IB be made a part of their organisation.
The judge ordered that the DG IB submit a written reply in court, saying why they were unable to process the sound recording.
“The general perception is that there is civil-military tension, but they seem to be on the same page on the matter of not submitting the reports,” Justice Siddiqui said.
“We will not allow this matter to be brushed under the carpet,” the judge asserted, ordering that all required reports be submitted to the court Feb 12, or else contempt proceedings would be initiated against all officials involved.