ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court lashed out at the government for its inability to end the Faizabad sit-in for over two weeks while rubbishing reports submitted by intelligence and security agencies. The court sought a complete report from all stakeholders by November 30.
In its order, the bench, while praising the government’s efforts to avoid loss of life, also suggested that use of non-lethal force could be employed to clear the protesters.
“Morally, we have imperceptibly crept to the lowest level of our understanding of Islam,” said Justice Faez Isa, who along with Justice Mushir Alam was hearing the matter after they took notice earlier this week when a lawyer requested that he be excused from a case due to difficulty commuting between Rawalpindi and Islamabad.
Reports submitted by Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Intelligence Bureau (IB) received harsh criticism from Isa, who termed them insufficient and said the media would be more updated.
For most of the hearing, Justice Isa volleyed questions at Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf, but the AG had little to offer in response except nods of agreement.
Ausaf stated that so far, the government had made 169 arrests and filed 18 first information reports against the protesters on varying charges and that the government was taking preventive measures but did not want to publicise them.
He said the government was being cautious because there was a risk of conflict if action is taken against the protesters, as some of them are also armed.
“Why is the government helpless? Do we know who is funding them? What are the motives of those protesters? Who is benefiting from this standoff?” asked Justice Isa, adding that the reports submitted by the intelligence outfits were nothing but a formality.
The bench also noted that “the leadership of the protesters are using abusive and filthy language, including against those who are no longer in this world, and now are also abusing us when our previous order was communicated to them.”
He asked the agencies if foreign agents or powers were behind the protest and what the reason was behind their two-plus weeks stay.
To a comment on peaceful negotiations, Justice Alam asked, “If one day an enemy of the state occupies the capital, will the government negotiate?”
In its later order, the bench noted, while the government’s effort to avoid “loss of life is indeed commendable, but it does not follow that protesters can only be removed by firing upon them. Baton-wielding or even unarmed law enforcement personnel, if they are sufficient in numbers, can undertake such an exercise as is often undertaken in many civilized countries of the world and without any loss of life.”
Justice Isa told ISI representative Colonel Falak that “it is disappointing to see the report, there is nothing in this report, there are sensitive buildings including corps headquarters in Rawalpindi and this is the detail you have,” he commented.
Angered by the government’s inaction, Justice Isa said if the situation was not controlled, judgments would be delivered in the streets instead of the courts.
Justice Isa also lamented the language being used by the protesters stating that it was not representative of Islam and Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) never harmed anybody.
“Who is paying for the sit-in, who is providing the protester’s food and electricity, are they paying taxes, do they know what is the cost of this stalemate?” he asked
Justice Isa asked the IB and ISI to submit a fresh comprehensive report, which may be sealed if they contain secret or sensitive details. The court then adjourned for a week.
In the order issued later, having previously noted that the death of a child due to the protest had not softened the protesters’ hearts, the bench noted that force and violence have no place in Islam. It added that the protesters are preventing Muslims from living their lives. “In the expectation that better sense may still prevail, the protesters are directed to abide by the stipulations of the Holy Quran and to emulate the exemplary conduct of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), and to also abide by the Constitution of Pakistan and the law.”
The government was also directed to translate the court’s order into Urdu, make “sufficient copies”, and distribute them among the protesters.