ISLAMABAD - The Ministry of Defence filed a review petition in Supreme Court against its judgment in Faizabad sit-in case.
“The direction to the Chiefs of the Armed Forces of Pakistan to take action ‘against the personnel under their command who are found to have violated their oath’ is vague and unenforceable,” said the review petition.
The 20-page petition added: “The impugned judgement does not identify any official of the Armed Forces of Pakistan being involved in the sit-in or of maneuvering the outcome of General Elections of 2018 or of financing extremists or of curbing free speech or of interfering with press freedom.
“Compliance of this direction is impossible in the absences of any credible evidence and identification of any person, against whom such action is to be directed. This is an error floating on the surface of the Impugned Judgment and is liable to be corrected.”
It is submitted that to promote their own interest and further their designs several hostile foreign intelligence agencies have created a false perception against Pakistan and its Armed Forces of aiding and supporting extremist organisations, in the region.
“This false narrative has always been strongly controverted by Pakistan and its Armed Forces,” the petition said.
The impugned judgment, however, when read as whole, it is submitted with great respect, unfortunately lends credence to this false narrative and has adverse implications for the security of Pakistan.”
It contended that the impugned judgment displaces the image of the armed forces defending the country against menace of terrorism with the image of a force mired in politics, manipulating elections, subverting free speech, muzzling the press and funding extremists.
“Army successfully conducted large-scale operations against terrorism and as a result of which the terrorism have considerably reduced. These results have been achieved by an across the board support from all political parties, by Parliament and by the people of Pakistan. “ Further, and the most important, the Armed Forces of Pakistan draw comfort from and are heartened by the trust vested in them by the people of Pakistan.
“The impugned judgment, if not reviewed, can imperil this trust, demoralize the Armed Forces and provide both opportunity and ammunition to Pakistan’s enemies, particularly India, in their false and pernicious propaganda against Pakistan.”
Before passing the judgment, no notice was issued to any member of the Armed Forces of Pakistan by this Court nor was the Ministry of Defence confronted with these allegations and given an opportunity to respond.
A 20-page review petition stated that reading of the judgment creates a perception that the Armed Forces of Pakistan and Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) were involved in the Sit-in, engaged in abridging freedom of speech, involved in censorship of press, invested in ensuring a particular outcome of the General Elections 2018 and transgressed constitutional boundaries.
It is submitted that the observations in the paragraphs of the judgment are based on assumptions and news items.
The petition said: “No journalist or author of a news report or producer of a broadcast or telecast was examined to prove the allegations so made and no officer against whom these remarks were directed given an opportunity to controvert the press reports.”
Further the observation that the Armed Forces were involved in politics is vague, the petition said, adding that neither any particulars are stated nor any evidence of such involvement referred in the judgment.
“The Election Commission of Pakistan in exercise of authority under Article 220 and 245 of the Constitution decided that the Pakistan Armed Forces shall assist the Election Commission and make necessary arrangements for the conduct of General Election.”
“There was no evidence before this Hon’ble Court to suggest that the Armed Forces of Pakistan and/or ISI were, in any manner, involved with either the Sit-in/Dharna or a particular outcome of the General Elections of 2018 or the abridgement of free speech or intimidation of or censorship of the press.”
Regarding the viral video in which officers of Pakistan Rangers were seen giving envelops to the participants of Sit-in, the review petition stated that these participants when told to move said they did not even have the fare to return home. In order to execute the directions of Ministry of Interior to remove these participants, the bare minimum travel expenditure was provided to enable them to return home.
“It is also obvious that had the activity been clandestine or if the intent was to fund extremists the Rangers would not have acted in such an open manner in the gaze of publicity.”
Regarding the observations in the impugned judgment, wherein it is stated that the DG ISPR was reported to have state “history will prove 2018 elections were transparent’, the review petition contended that the DG ISPR was acknowledging the efforts of the Armed Forces deployed at the polling station to maintain law and order and to prevent any malpractice or irregularity.
Regarding the observations on stoppage of certain private TV channels in cantonment areas, the review petition contended that no dates or time periods were specified and not a single officer of Armed Forces was named.
“The Armed Forces of Pakistan has zero-tolerance policy when it comes to violation of oath by their officers.”
It further submitted that the observations made against ISI are not based on any credible and admissible evidence or the law adding that the judgment will adversely affect the morale of the armed forces.
“Such remarks have an unintended yet most unfortunate consequence. These will be exploited and blown out of all proportion by our external foes, in their propaganda war against the Armed Forces of Pakistan. Their politicians and their print and electronic media has in the past exploited such allegations to their advantage and will use the impugned judgment to allege that the highest court of Pakistan if of the view that the Armed Forces of Pakistan are harbouring extremists and are responsible for much that is wrong.”
The review petition prayed for setting aside the judgment insofar it contains explicit or implicit adverse observations implicating the Armed Forces of Pakistan or ISI.
Meanwhile, Barrister Syed Ali Zafar issued a clarification saying that he has not filed any petition for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in the Faizabad Dharna case yet.
“Some channels/papers have wrongly quoted certain paragraphs from somewhere assuming that these are in the petition which is to be filed,” his press statement said. He said that such clarification is necessary for the record and to clear the rumor mongering.