ISI challenges SC's Faizabad sit-in verdict

Published: April 15, 2019
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ISLAMABAD: The country’s premier intelligence agency has challenged the Supreme Court verdict in the Faizabad sit-in case, saying it will adversely affect the morale of the armed forces.

The verdict, authored by SC judge Qazi Faez Isa, had directed the intelligence agencies, including the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Military Intelligence (MI), and the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), not to exceed their constitutional mandates.

It is learnt that seven review petitions have been filed so far against the apex court’s February 6 ruling. Interestingly, under the SC Rules 1980, an aggrieved party can move review petition within 30 days but in this case, the SC registrar extended the time till April 18 for the parties to file their reviews.

A senior official revealed to The Express Tribune that one section of the government was unwilling to file a review petition in this case as there was no specific direction against any individual.

They believe that the ruling is an academic exercise.

The Ministry of Defence, ISI, IB, Pemra, Election Commission of Pakistan, PTI, MQM, Federal Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid and MNA Ijazul Haq have so far filed review petitions against the February 6 verdict.

The ISI, through Attorney General for Pakistan Anwar Mansoor Khan, has contended that the court’s observations will gather the impression that the armed forces and ISI are responsible for such unconstitutional acts.

The judgement displaces the image of the armed forces defending the country against the menace of terrorism with the image of a force mired in politics, manipulating elections, subverting free speech, muzzling the press and funding extremists.

The ISI contends that the observation about the involvement of armed forces in politics is vague as there is no evidence as such in this regard. Likewise, there was no evidence to suggest that the ISI was involved with either sit-in/dharna or particular outcome of the 2018 general elections or the abridgment of free speech or intimidation of or censorship of the press.

Observations and findings create the impression that the armed forces in violation of their oath of office have been found by this court to be involved in politics and other unlawful activities and are busy pampering rather than checking those who resort to abuse, hate and violence.

These are disturbing allegations unsupported by any credible and admissible evidence without identifying any person. Yet, the chiefs of armed forces of Pakistan have been directed to take disciplinary action against unnamed individuals who the court suspects of being so involved, says the review petition filed by ISI.

It is also contended that though the court quoted examples of intelligence agencies of different countries, it did not note that the internal and external threats and challenges faced by the intelligence agencies of these countries were very different.

The ISI stated that such remarks will be exploited by external foes in their propaganda war against the armed forces of Pakistan. Their politicians and media has in the past exploited such allegations to their advantage and will use the SC verdict to allege that the highest court of Pakistan is of the view that the armed forces are harbouring extremists, adding that armed forces can counter propaganda but their task becomes unenviable when the judgement of the highest court of Pakistan supplies ammunition to the enemies of Pakistan.

In such a situation, they cannot turn anywhere except to this court, an institution for which they have the highest respect for relief and succour.

It is also submitted that to promote their own interests and further their designs, several hostile foreign intelligence agencies have created a false perception against Pakistan and armed forces of aiding and supporting extremists organisation in the region, adding that this perception is false.

The impugned judgement; however, when read as a whole, it is submitted with great respect, unfortunately lends credence to this false narrative and has adverse implications for the security of Pakistan.

The ISI also objected to the court’s observations of halting TV transmission in the cantonment and defence areas.

Armed forces have zero tolerance policy when it comes to violation of oath by their officers. An allegation that an office of the armed forces has violated his oath of office is always inquired into. If the allegation is not devoid of basis, disciplinary proceedings are initiated. However, no action is possible in the absence of any credible evidence and that too against unnamed officers for their alleged involvement in unparticularised incidents on unspecified date, it adds.

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