An Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) in Islamabad on Monday ordered the arrests of Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan’s (TLP) Khadim Hussain Rizvi, Pir Afzal Qadri and other absconding suspects in a case pertaining to the Faizabad sit-in held last year.
The ATC ordered their arrests after they failed to appear before the court despite being issued multiple summons.
The ATC had previously issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Rizvi and other clerics after they did not respond to various summons.
The police were separately ordered to submit their final challan in the next hearing of the case, which has been scheduled for April 4.
The Faizabad sit-in, organised by politico-religious parties in November 2017, had disrupted life in the twin cities for at least 20 days.
ISI report rejected
Earlier today, the Supreme Court (SC) had rejected Inter-Services Intelligence’s (ISI) report on the Faizabad sit-in, calling it “unsatisfactory”.
“This report is deeply unsettling: it has been prepared by one of the premier agencies of the country, yet a journalist could have given more details [about the protests] than this report,” Justice Qazi Faez Isa said after reviewing the document.
Justice Isa is part of a two-member SC bench, along with Justice Musheer Alam, which has been hearing a suo motu case regarding the use of abusive language during the sit-in and the difficulties caused to residents of the capital by the roadblocks placed by the agitators.
In today’s hearing, Justice Isa said that the ISI — just like the judiciary — was “answerable to taxpayers”.
The court asked the deputy attorney general, who submitted the report, if he was satisfied with it, to which the latter replied in the affirmative.
The bench then pointed out that the report did not even specify the source of Rizvi’s income.
Read: Who is Khadim Hussain Rizvi?
When Justice Isa inquired further about Rizvi’s occupation, he was told that the TLP chief was a “religious lecturer”.
The explanation was offered by Col Falak Naz, who was representing the Defence Ministry in the hearing.
“Is ‘religious lecturer’ a profession?” Justice Isa asked, before turning to Rizvi’s tax status and bank account.
Col Naz responded that Rizvi lived on donations.
“Then mention that he is being financially supported by others!” the judge exclaimed.
The court also pointed out that the report did not answer the specific questions previously raised by the court before ordering the ISI to submit a new report within two weeks.
The court also ordered the attorney general to be present for the next hearing.
Daily life in Islamabad was disrupted for 20 days in November 2017 by protesters belonging to religious parties, including TLY, the Tehreek-i-Khatm-i-Nabuwwat, and the Sunni Tehreek Pakistan (ST).
The agitators believed that during the passage of the Elections Act 2017, the Khatm-i-Nabuwwat oath was deliberately modified as part of some conspiracy. The amendment to the oath had been explained as a ‘clerical error’ by the government and subsequently rectified through an Act of Parliament.
Nonetheless, the protesters had occupied the Faizabad Interchange, which connects Rawalpindi and Islamabad through the Islamabad Expressway and Murree Road — both of which are the busiest roads in the twin cities.
The government had initiated several rounds of negotiations with the protesters, but failed each time.
The sit-in lasted nearly three weeks and culminated after an operation to end the protest by the government failed, following which the army brokered an ‘agreement’ between the state and the protesters, the terms of which included the resignation of former law minister Zahid Hamid.
The agreement had been seen as a complete surrender by the state to the protesters.