Afaq Ahmad, the chief of the Mohajir Qaumi Movement-Haqiqi, may have been released from jail after eight long years, but he is far from free. There are restrictions on his movement, which have prompted him to go back to the Sindh High Court.
In a fresh petition filed on Wednesday, Afaq challenged the decision to place his name on the Exit Control List thus preventing him from leaving the country.
Citing the federal interior secretary and director of immigration and passports of Karachi in the petition, he submitted that he had applied for a passport and deposited the fee (Rs5,000) as he planned to perform Umra in Saudi Arabia.
But he was informed by the authorities that his name has been put on the ECL and therefore he cannot be issued a passport.
He maintains that he has been admitted to bail or acquitted in all cases registered against him. “I am not a fugitive from the law,” he said, adding that he has been facing cases in court for a decade and there is no possibility that a short visit abroad would in any way affect the cases against him.
The director of passports violated Articles 4, 14, 15 and 25 of the Constitution, submitted Afaq.
He appealed to the court to direct these officers to issue him a passport. The court was also requested to declare that it was a violation of the rules laid down in the constitution to refuse him a passport and put his name on the ECL.
The petition has been admitted and fixed for hearing on Thursday before a division bench.
The hearing of a case against Afaq Ahmed on the charge of kidnapping and torturing an employee of the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board was adjourned till February 23 as he sought an acquittal.
Filing the application before Khalida Yasin, judge of Anti-Terrorism Court II on Wednesday, Afaq’s lawyer Khurram Maqsood submitted that the case was an old one. Some of the main accused men have already been convicted and others acquitted after a full-scale trial by an ATC.
The case against Afaq was kept dormant and was to be reopened when he was arrested. His lawyer requested for the case to be decided on evidence already presented in order to save time. He pointed out that no witness had said anything against Afaq Ahmed during the trial.
According to the prosecution, on May 5, 2001, three unidentified young boys kidnapped a water board engineer named Jamil Ahmed Baloch. He was detained at Baitul Hamza, the MQM-H headquarters at the time, and was freed after the Rangers intervened and allegedly negotiated his release with the MQM-H leadership.
A complaint was lodged with the police by another official, Sheikh Abdullah. Afaq was booked under sections 348, 337-A and 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code. However, the investigating officer placed Afaq’s name in column 2, meaning that no credible evidence was found against him.
Police subsequently arrested a number of MQM-H workers, including Athar Usmani, Jamil Ahmed, and Zafar besides Shehzad Bihari, Bubli and Salman Younus.
Athar Usmani, Jamil and Zafar were convicted while the remaining three were acquitted on November 8, 2001. The case against Afaq was kept in cold storage and surfaced when he was admitted to bail in six cases known to him.
The court issued notice to the special public prosecutor and put off the hearing till February 23.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 9th, 2012.
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