Govt says charging Altaf a ‘sensitive’ matter

Published: December 23, 2016

LAHORE: Initiating treason proceedings against the MQM founder for his anti-Pakistan remarks is a sensitive case and requires careful handling, the federal government has told the Lahore High Court.

In a one-page written reply submitted by Interior Secretary Arif Khan before the LHC full bench headed by Justice Mazahir Ali Naqvi, the government has said the matter ‘might be referred to an appropriate forum’  after consultations with the Attorney General of Pakistan.

The three-member LHC bench was hearing a petition seeking proceedings against MQM supremo Altaf Hussain and other party leaders for alleged treason.

In the reply, the interior secretary submitted the matter had been referred to the law and justice ministry to solicit comments regarding invoking Article 6 of the Constitution against Altaf.

A meeting was held between the law minister, interior minister, attorney general, prime minister’s special assistant and interior secretary to deliberate on this matter. The law and justice ministry said that before making a reference to the Cabinet or the PM, the matter may be referred to the attorney general because Altaf had a large number of followers in urban Sindh and enjoyed substantial political strength.

The secretary stated the matter was sensitive and required careful handling despite glaring violations of the law.

After going through the reply, the court asked the attorney general how much time he needed to give his recommendations. The top law officer said the case was sensitive and might take a few months.

The court gave him three weeks and adjourned the matter when he sought adjournment for ‘some’ months.

During the hearing, Justice Mazahir observed that no one could be allowed to speak against the integrity of the country.

The petition filed by advocates Abdullah Malik, Aftab and Maqsood among others had called for a lifetime ban on the live telecast of MQM leader’s speeches, alleging that Altaf’s speeches violated Article 5, which called for showing loyalty to the state and obedience to the Constitution.

The lawyers wanted a case of treason to be registered against the MQM chief.

The LHC had clamped a ban on the coverage of Altaf in print and electronic media on August 31, 2015.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 23rd, 2016.

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