Court absolves Punjab CM of treason charges

Published: July 2, 2017
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. PHOTO: INP

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. PHOTO: INP

LAHORE: Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif is now free of all treason charges as a an additional district and sessions judge dismissed a petition seeking a case against him for allegedly making derogatory remarks against some deceased politicians, particularly Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

In his speech [at Arfa Software Technology Park], he (Shehbaz) incited people by saying elected political leaders, as well as military regimes, had been ruining Pakistan for 70 years,” Syed Azhar Abbas had alleged.

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However, the judge found no substance in the allegations. “Practically speaking, a fair and honest comparison shall make it crystal clear that in terms of performance, commitment and delivery, the accused stands above the vast majority of his predecessors,” Additional District and Sessions Judge Rafaqat Ali Gondal said in a one-page order.

He went on to say that there could be so many objections, reservations and allegations against the CM, but ground realities cannot be ignored. “He (Shehbaz) has performed much better than his predecessors.”

“Therefore, if he has expressed his views and made comments during a ceremonial function as a matter of routine, it does not constitute an offence as has been alleged by the present petitioner,” the judge added.

“The allegations levelled by the petitioner stated it would be unfair to completely ignore the socio-political impact [of such statements],” he said.

The judge observed that people were well aware of history and the Punjab chief minister’s statement was nothing out of the ordinary. Judge Gondal added that from time to time, all stakeholders had expressed such views, some being more severe than others.

Dismissing the petition, the judge said that pleas filed to gain popularity or unjustifiably amplify an issue should be discouraged to allow the smooth functioning of state institutions and functionaries.

“Therefore, in the light of above discussed legal, social and political aspects, I find no legal justification to issue the direction as sought by the petitioner,” the judge said.

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The petitioner contended that the chief minister’s statement damaged the repute of genuine politicians. He said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had been at the helm of the country’s affairs in two occasions and the chief minister’s words also raised question marks over his own past performance.

He pleaded that the chief minister had attempted to incite the Pakistani nation. Abbas added Shehbaz ruined the image of Quaid-e-Azam, who was the first governor general Pakistan and the founder of the country.

The petitioner asked the court to order police to lodge a case against the chief minister on charges of indulging in anti-state activities.

Talking to The Express Tribune Azhar said the allegations levelled by the chief minister were of a serious nature. He asked than an FIR be registered against Shehbaz and the CM arrested immediately.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 2nd, 2017.

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