Acquitted, but…

Though the case had been lingering on for almost eight years, the twist came with the change of prosecution team

March 17, 2022


Amidst political uncertainty, the ruling PTI has something to rejoice as its leadership stands acquitted in a case of alleged vandalism. An anti-terrorism court in Islamabad disposed of a case pending for years, and absolved the PTI leadership of the charges of attacking the Parliament House and the PTV Headquarters during a 2014 protest against the then government. President Arif Alvi, federal ministers Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Asad Umar and Pervez Khattak, provincial minister Shaukat Yousafzai, Senator Ejaz Chaudhry, Jahangir Tareen, Aleem Khan and many others had been booked.

Though the case had been lingering on for almost eight years, the twist came with the change of prosecution team. This lacuna of prosecution failing to press on with the charges proved to be the game-changer, and the court was on its own to scrap the case. An interesting last minute development was the appearing in court of President Dr Arif Alvi, who bowed before the court to voluntarily surrender the immunity he enjoys under the Constitution, and prayed for relieving him of the impugned charges. The Prime Minister has already been cleared by the court in October 2020. Pakistan Awami Tehreek chief Dr Tahirul Qadri, however, was earlier declared a fugitive, and it is to be seen if he too is off the hook now.

The charges, though political in nature, also had a moral and legal stature, as it pertained to exhibiting power politics in defiance of law. It is a pity that such cases either do not happen to see the light of the day or are quashed under one pretext or the other by evading the merit of law. The attack on the Supreme Court in 1997 is a case in point. In the 2014 case too, the court apparently struggled to cajole a clear picture for want of evidence. The new prosecution team — obviously under the directives of the accused persons — refused to stand with the charges. In a petition, it was also prayed that the opposition parties currently are also on the streets, and the incumbent government hasn’t registered any case. Thus, the 2014 case stands mala fide and politically motivated. What a travesty of law!

The state and the court of law had to forcibly look the other way round while deciding for the loss of three lives and injuries to more than 26 people, apart from vandalism that is recent history. Political parties across-the-board should ponder over this piece of wilderness, they resort to, in the ambit of law.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 17th, 2022.

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