As the Supreme Court took up the Faizabad sit-in review pleas, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) senior leader Khawaja Asif on Thursday alleged that the protesters were brought in at the venue of the sit-in in 2017 by the “same people” who conspired against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
“If there was any flaw in the decision of the Faizabad sit-in case, all these things would not have happened. The Faizabad sit-in case decision should be implemented,” the PML-N stalwart said during Geo News show Capital Talk.
He added that a video of a government official distributing money was “proof” of who brought the protesters to Faizabad and who took them back.
“The purpose of the sit-in was to somehow block the return of Nawaz Sharif,” Asif said, adding that the “whole movie” also included the Panama case and “other things”.
The former defence minister also said that Nawaz and her daughter Maryam were imprisoned and as a result, the PTI was given a victory in the 2018 general elections.
On the PML-N’s decision to vote the law giving an extension to then-army chief General (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa. Asif said they voted because the party leadership felt it was the “right decision”.
Asif also revealed that before voting on the extension to the army chief’s tenure, he was asked what the PML-N wanted in return. He added that the party was promised to that they could take back the “Punjab government in June and the federal government by December”.
“Those whom I met said that we have endured him a lot. An apology should be made to the nation for how things are today, the mistakes of the past must be acknowledged,” the PML-N stalwart said.
“What greater punishment can there be that you become a pariah in history,” said Asif without naming anyone. He added that Nawaz is ready for all kinds of situations when he returns next month. “Time proved Nawaz Sharif was right. Nawaz Sharif’s return again and again is the biggest proof of his truth.”
I found no loopholes in verdict: Ali Zafar
Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Senator Barrister Ali Zafar, during the same TV show, said that the PTI government at that time had decided to file a review plea in the case.
“The PTI asked me to look into the review petition. When I saw the [verdict] I found no loopholes in the decision,” Zafar said, adding that the verdict had made some observations while referring to the PTI sit-in of 2014.
“I believe that a clarification should be given on the 2014 PTI sit-in. I filed a petition to be heard and since then four years have passed, now I don’t think there is need for those observations and arguments on it which is why I took back the plea,” he said.
Zafar also added that the government took back the review petition, which he thought was based on “merit”, by stating that they accepted the verdict.
“Timeline is such that first, the verdict came and then a reference was filed [against CJP Qazi Faez Isa],” the PTI senator said. He added that the reference was filed at the suggestion of the then-law minister Farogh Naseem. “No reference can be filed without the advice of law minister and attorney general.”
‘Why so scared’, asks CJP Isa
Earlier today, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa expressed annoyance after multiple petitioners seeking a review of the Supreme Court’s 2019 verdict against the Faizabad sit-in decided to withdraw their pleas.
“Why everyone is so scared?,” the top judge remarked, as a three-member bench — comprising Athar Minallah and Justice Aminuddin Khan — heard the review pleas.
Multiple pleas were filed challenging the verdict on the Faizabad sit-in staged by the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) in 2017 against the then PML-N government.
CJP Isa, who was a member of the three-member bench that issued the 2019 verdict, also expressed annoyance over the non-implementation of the years-old order.
The chief justice told the parties seeking to withdraw their pleas — the federal government, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority, the Election Commission of Pakistan, and others — to submit their responses in writing and explain the reasons behind their decision.
Faizabad sit-in legal saga
This legal saga began on April 15, 2019, when the then-federal government, along with entities like the Defence Ministry, Intelligence Bureau, PTI government, AML chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, MQM-P, and the Pemra, among others, filed review pleas contesting the apex court’s judgment delivered by the incumbent Chief Justice Isa regarding the Faizabad sit-in case.
On February 6, 2019, a two-member bench of the apex court comprising now-CJP Isa and Justice Mushir Alam recommended that persons, issuing an edict or fatwa to harm another person or put another person in the harm’s way must be dealt with iron hand and prosecuted under relevant laws.
It also ruled that the intelligence agencies must not exceed their respective mandates. Later, the bench disposed of a suo moto case regarding the 2017 Faizabad sit-in staged by the TLP.
The 43-page verdict issued by the two-judge bench and published on the apex court’s website read: “Every citizen and political party has the right to assemble and protest provided such assembly and protest is peaceful and complies with the law imposing reasonable restrictions in the interest of public order.
The right to assemble and protest is circumscribed only to the extent that it infringes on the fundamental rights of others, including their right to free movement and to hold and enjoy property.”
In November 2017, the top court took suo motu notice of the three-week-long sit-in, which was held against a change in the finality-of-Prophethood oath, termed by the government as a clerical error, when the government passed the Elections Act 2017.
The sit-in was called off after the protesters reached an agreement with the government.