PTI approaches SC for holding 'peaceful protest' in Islamabad

Petition seeks to bar government from using any force, coercive measures and ‘intimidation tactics’


Hasnaat Malik June 01, 2022
Imran Khan addressing his supporters on the way to D-Chowk, Islamabad on May 25. SCREENGRAB

ISLAMABAD:

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) approached the Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday, seeking directions for the federal and Punjab governments to allow the party to hold a peaceful protest in the capital.

The petition seeks to bar the government from using any force, coercive measures and ‘intimidation tactics’ such as raiding homes of party workers, unlawful restrictions and blocking entry points.

The constitutional petition has been filed under Article 184 (3) through PTI's counsel, Ali Zafar. The petition contends that the recent arrests were a breach of the fundamental rights of free movement, peaceful protest, association, assembly and freedom of speech.

It also states that PTI supporters “have demonstrated (from their past conduct) that they will be peaceful in the exercise of their constitutional rights".

The government’s actions against PTI workers and supporters were also criticised, particularly the use of tear gas and arrests prior to the May 25 long march. It stated that the recent and ongoing actions of the government “are arbitrary, illegal, discriminatory, unlawful, and in violation of law as well as the letter and spirit of the Constitution”.

Read Imran asks nation to prepare for next long march

“The Petitioner has approached this honorable Court with bona fide intention, in the best interest of the people of Pakistan, and for the furtherance of rule of law. Furthermore, no other adequate and efficacious remedy is available to the Petitioner, except the invoking of the constitutional jurisdiction of this honorable Court,” the petition further read.

The petition comes a day after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif formed a committee to probe into the alleged claims made by PTI chief Imran Khan where he conceded that some participants of his “Haqeeqi Azadi March” were carrying weapons.

PM Shehbaz, while chairing a federal cabinet meeting on May 31, had assigned a newly formed committee the task of coming up with a plan to put a halt to PTI’s “anti-state” activities.

In a statement on May 27, Imran had reassured his supporters that he was the same leader who once conducted a sit-in for 126 days and that it would not have been difficult to do so again during the “Haqeeqi Azadi March” in the federal capital.

“However, as soon as I reached, I became aware of the extent of the situation,” Imran had said, adding that he knew there would be bloodshed and claimed that his supporters were "ready" even after seeing the "terrorism" carried out by the police.

“Our people reached the sit-in site after being beaten by the police. They were very angry. I can guarantee that there would have been bloodshed and clashes with the police that day.”

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