KARACHI: It was an eventful day for Afaq Ahmed, the chairman of the Mohajir Qaumi Movement (MQM-Haqiqi), who was granted permission by the High Court of Sindh to defend his cases on Friday.
The judges decided that the president and secretary of the SHC Bar Association would act as Afaq’s pro bono counsel as the MQM-H leader had told the court that no lawyer was prepared to defend him. One of his lawyers has already been killed.
Chief Justice Mushir Alam and Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi first heard Afaq’s request to be placed under observation of the law enforcing agencies for six months after he is released on bail. Afaq argued that he was booked in false cases one after another and that he anticipated that more would be foisted on him after he is released. Afaq has been behind bars since 2004. He has also asked for compensation for his party’s men who have gone missing or who have been killed.
Additional Advocate General Sarwar Khan told the court that the prosecutor general (PG) would be in a better position to explain the cases against Afaq. The judges ordered that a list be submitted of all cases along with details of the circumstances under which they were registered.
The judges also granted Afaq’s request to appear in person to defend himself, which, they said, was every citizen’s right.
The court took strong exception to Afaq’s detention under the Maintenance of Public Order rules just as he was going to be released on bail after being behind bars for eight years. On July 14, Afaq had said he feared this would happen but a government lawyer had denied it vehmently and assured that it wouldn’t. On the contrary, the bench said, Afaq’s fears proved true.
“As noted in a number of cases, the level of trust and confidence in public functionaries is at its lowest point [because of] their mis-statements in court, threatening the entire judicial system,” said the judges. “And it is high time that the authority concerned takes remedial measures to redeem such a trust deficit in the LEAs.”
Another bench adjourned the bail hearing till Tuesday, directing the PG to argue the case for the government.
“You cannot hold a man released in one case and booked and detained in a new one,” said Justice Maqbool Baqar, hearing Afaq’s pre-arrest bail plea in a case registered by a water board staffer.
He was not arrested in this FIR, submitted an AAG. But then Iqbal Kazmi, a co-petitioner and social worker, who has no connection with Afaq’s case, objected.
Kazmi is Afaq’s legal attorney, the bench told the AAG. Where is the investigating officer, where are the police papers, the bench inquired from a visibly shaken AAG, who, trying to keep calm, said that Afaq was produced by the jail.
“From where did this case come up,” asked the bench. “Don’t take things so easily, don’t take this court for granted,” Justice Maqbool Baqar said.
“Afaq’s name was in column No. 2 (in the FIR) as there was no evidence against him,” replied the AAG, explaining why he was therefore not arrested.
“Nine cases have been registered against me in the same way and I have to fight all of these cases and go through an entire procedure and exercise,” complained Afaq. “I have been acquitted in all of them.”
“I do not have the details,” said the AAG, to which the bench asked him to call the PG. “I will not adjourn the matter today,” the bench said. “If the PG is not available, his second in command should come... If there is a genuine case, the accused shall be arrested but not in the manner as in the present case,” the court said. “Each time the government is swayed by the doctrine of neccessity.”
After fifteen minutes, Justice Baqar took up the case in open court and as the PG was not present, he adjourned. The bench also ordered that until the next hearing, Afaq will not be arrested in a new case. Earlier on, Afaq was produced in court at around 8:40 am from Central Prison, Karachi. He came in an armoured personnel carrier along with half a dozen police units. A few dozen charged workers and supporters stopped the APC by jumping in front of it, allowing the press photographers an opportunity to shoot.
Afaq seeks registration of another FIR in Baitul hamza attack
Afaq Ahmed on Friday filed a constitutional petition seeking registration of an FIR in respect to an attack on his party’s headquarters, Baitul Hamza, in which he escaped unhurt while two of his party’s men were killed on June 10, 1997.
After the hearing of his three cases was over, Afaq went to the petition branch of SHC and filed the petition himself. In the petition, he maintained that the Landhi police lodged the FIR against “unidentified persons” under political exigency. He referred to the joint investigation report of alleged killer of Muttahidda Qaumi Movement, Ajmal Pahari, and said as per this JIT, Altaf Hussain, Anees Ahmed Qaimkhani, Muhammad Anwar and others should be booked in the case.
He prayed to the court that in view of a precedent set in Mir Murtaza Bhutto murder case wherein a second FIR as per the version of aggrieved person was lodged, in this case too another FIR as per his version should be lodged against nominated accused, their arrests be made through Interpol and the case be tried in Pakistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 12th, 2011.
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