ISLAMABAD – Visibly angry on being questioned by the FIA and police on an order from the Supreme Court about an SMS campaign spreading messages against the chief justice of Pakistan and the bar on televisions from airing any defamatory content against the judiciary, PPP’s firebrand Senator Faisal Raza Abidi on Thursday snapped back, saying that a judicial martial law has been imposed and the media is being gagged through legal orders.
Abidi’s diatribe against the judiciary came when Zahid Khan of the ANP, on a point of order, informed the House that the PPP senator was being harassed by the Federal Investigation Agency and police in the light of a letter from the Supreme Court registrar. “He should be summoned instead of being tortured by the FIA if he committed contempt of court,” added Khan.
When the Senate deputy chairman, Sabir Baloch, tried to calm Abidi down and assured he would be given time, the latter squatted on the ground in front of the former, saying the chair was not hearing him. “I should be given proper time to present proofs against Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and his family before the House,” added an adamant Abidi, who was not ready to keep silent for a single moment. He also threatened to commit suicide if the chair did not hear him properly.
Although given a clean chit in the anti-CJP SMS campaign, Abidi, however, complained that the FIA and police investigated him as if he was a thief or a dacoit.
“I have given the FIA proofs against Justice Chaudhry. I will also present the same before the House,” he said, contending that he acted within the law and that legally there was no bar to level allegations against judges and their families.
To prove his point, Abidi added, “Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry himself permitted this in a 2005 Supreme Judicial Council meeting which the then general secretary of the council (now the registrar) also attended.
He, however, condemned the circulation of identical defamatory text messages against the chief justice, arguing that it was forwarded from the cellphone of a retired judge for the first time. “Why a case was not registered against him,” he questioned, and in the same breath observed that this all would happen when notices were taken on (recovery of) two bottles of liquor (from Attiqa Odho), but no suo motu was taken on sectarian killings on the request from clerics. “For how long we will have to sit like silent spectators.”
The PPP leader also said the Islamabad High Court (IHC) in a bid to prevent a possible news conference against the chief justice passed orders asking televisions not to air any defamatory content about the judiciary. He asserted that the very order was against the freedom of speech and expression.
On her turn, Dr Saeeda Iqbal said that no one was ready to hear, when a number of text messages were directed against certain politicians.
Upon this, Leader of the House Jahangir Badr asked the chair to form a special committee under Mian Raza Rabbani on the issue. Rabbani, however, refused, saying he would not be available and the case might be sent to the privilege committee. Perhaps Mr Rabbani was not ready to become part of the committee that would initiate proceedings against the letter of the Supreme Court.
Later, Badr said the chair would be informed about the composition of the committee in a day or two.
Meanwhile, Rehman Malik told the House that investigations against Abidi had been started on a letter written by the SC registrar to the interior secretary and DG FIA and he would present the letter and the investigations report before the House by Monday.
Malik also said that neither the FIA nor any other organisation under his administrative control had harassed and raided the residence of the Leader of the House, Jahangir Badr. He offered that all those suspected could be summoned before a Senate committee.