Protesters given final warning to clear crucial intersection

IHC issues contempt notice to interior minister; court bars use of firearms in any clearance operation

Rizwan Shehzad/Arsalan Altaf November 24, 2017
Head of the Tehreek-i-Labaik Yah Rasool Allah Pakistan (TLYRAP) Khadim Hussain Rizvi (C), offers Friday prayers on a blocked flyover bridge during a protest in Islamabad on November 24, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad administration on Friday issued a final warning to the protesters, occupying the Faizabad interchange to clear the roads or face “strict action”, as the roadblock approached the third week.

The notice is issued after the Islamabad High Court (IHC) issued a contempt notice to Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal over the federal government’s apparent failure to end the protest, which has paralysed the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad.

“You have been repeatedly intimated about the illegality of your protest/sit-in,” said a notification issued by the Islamabad district magistrate and addressed to Tehreek-e-Labaik Yah Rasool Allah Pakistan (TLYRAP) leader Khadim Hussain Rizvi.

Earlier in the day, the IHC summoned the interior minister to appear before the court in person to explain why the contempt of court proceedings may not be initiated against him for violating the court’s earlier orders regarding the Rawalpindi sit-in.

IHC issues contempt notice to Ahsan Iqbal

IHC Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui also summoned officials of the country’s premier intelligence agencies on the next date of hearing, observing that the “sensitive institutions” needed to dispel the impression that the activity at Faizabad Interchange is sponsored by the intelligence agencies.

“There is serious need for our sensitive institutions to dispel this impression that activity of Faizabad Interchange (sit-in) is sponsored by the intelligence agencies,” he said. He subsequently ordered the sector commander of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Director General of the Intelligence Bureau to appear in court in person on the next date of hearing.

The case pertained to the sit-in in Rawalpindi by a religious group. The court had earlier ordered the officials concerned to get the Faizabad Interchange cleared of the protesters. However, the sit-in continued on Friday for almost three weeks.

During the hearing on Friday, Justice Siddiqui said the sit-in is about to complete its third week during which life in the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad remained paralysed. “This is not freedom of expression rather anti-state activity,” he added.

“Patients dying for want of access to hospitals, traders crying for lack of business activity, students are being deprived of their right to education and right to free movement of almost six million people of twin cities usurped by dictatorial act of one person and passive approach of law enforcing agencies adding to the miseries of citizens.”

Clear Faizabad, Islamabad admin told

Justice Siddiqui declared the “leadership of Dharna, prima facie, [is] involved in act of terrorism”. He stated in his order: “It is made clear that faith in Khatm-e-Nabuwat is of every Muslim and few persons cannot be allowed to claim exclusive right for its protection.”

The chief commissioner of Islamabad capital territory (ICT) informed the court that the ICT administration would perform its duties related to law and order. He denied the perception that the ICT administration lacked capacity.

On submission by the chief commissioner that all practical efforts would be made to enforce writ of the state, Justice Siddiqui stated: “It is made clear that force deputed by ICT administration shall not use “fire arms” during clearance operation...”

In response to a query as to why previous court orders were not followed, the chief commissioner replied that interior minister has stopped the administration from acting upon the orders of the court so that the negotiation process may continue.

The court said that it was beyond understanding how a federal minister or even the prime minister could sit over an order passed by the “court of competent jurisdiction, unless not reversed by the appellate court”.

The order read: “This is clearly an effort to undermine the authority of the court and [a] blatant act of contempt, therefore, let show-cause notice be issued to Mr. Ahsan Iqbal.” The order added: “He [interior minister] is directed to appear in person on the next date.”

Protesters keep road blocked in Islamabad

The order said that the federal minister for interior should explain under which authority of law he stopped the Islamabad administration from acting upon the orders passed by the court and why contempt of court proceedings may not be initiated against him.

The court also ordered the interior secretary to ensure production of the report of the committee headed by Senator Raja Zafar-ul-Haq and that it should not be made public until next date of hearing -- Nov 27. “Persons mentioned therein on whom some responsibility has been pasted, shall remain within Pakistan,” Justice Siddiqui stated.

Earlier, the court had fixed hearing for November 29 but on Friday the court decided to take up the case on November 27. Subsequently, notices were issued to parties concerned.


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