The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has issued a show-cause notice for contempt of court to Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal over his failure to take steps ordered by the court to end the sit-in that has brought the capital to a halt for past 17 days.
The court has inquired in the notice under which authority did the minister not take action against the sit-in despite orders of the high court.
Read: Islamabad sit-in has cost police Rs120m so far
The court issued the notice while hearing two applications filed by residents about the disturbance caused by the protracted sit-in.
The interior secretary represented the interior ministry before the court, which ordered the interior minister to appear in person on November 27.
When the district attorney general requested Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui to withdraw the show-cause notice, the judge responded: “Are you a servant of the [interior] minister or the federation?”
During the hearing, the judge remarked that the impression should end that agencies are backing the sit-in at Faizabad.
See: Who is backing Faizabad sit-in, asks SC judge
He said the court was not suggesting that the authorities should spray bullets on the protesters and that the participants of the sit-in could be dispersed using other options, such as tear gas.
The court also ordered the government to submit the report of a committee led by Senator Raja Zafarul Haq over the issue of the change in election laws on November 27, instead of the previously given date of November 29.
The judge directed that if a person has been named in the committee’s report as being responsible for the change in the Khatm-i-Nabuwwat declaration, their name should be put on the Exit Control List.
Justice Siddiqui also ordered DG Intelligence Bureau and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) sector commander to appear in person before the court on November 27.
Daily life in the capital has been disrupted by protesters belonging to religious parties — including the Tehreek-i-Khatm-i-Nabuwwat, Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLY) and the Sunni Tehreek Pakistan (ST) — who are calling for the sacking of Law Minister Zahid Hamid and strict action against those behind the amendment to the Khatm-i-Nabuwwat oath in the Elections Act 2017.
The amendment had earlier been deemed a ‘clerical error’ and has already been rectified.
The protesters had occupied the Faizabad Bridge which connects Rawalpindi and Islamabad through the Islamabad Expressway and Murree Road, both of which are the busiest roads in the twin cities. The IHC deadline for the government to remove the protesters expires today.
The government on Monday had scrambled to secure the support of religious leaders and ulema from across the political spectrum in a bid to negotiate a peaceful end to the sit-in.
However, a meeting between representatives of the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah and government ministers held at Punjab House was unable to make any breakthrough, as the protesters refused to budge from their demand for the law minister’s resignation.