ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court will, on September 8, resume hearing of a petition seeking the appointment of a commission to assess the impact and damage of the hate campaign allegedly being run by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leadership against national institutions such as the Election Commission of Pakistan, the judiciary as well as the armed forces.

The petition, moved by Advocate Qausain Faisal through his counsel Hassan Raza Pasha, sought an order to restrain the respondents, including the PTI leadership, members and their official spokesmen, from making any public or private statement.

The matter will be taken up by a two-judge SC bench comprising Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan and Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi.

During a chamber hearing on July 18, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah ordered fixation of the matter before the court while setting aside the objections raised by the registrar office regarding its filing directly before the SC without exhausting other forums first.

Petitioner seeks appointment of commission to assess impact of the alleged party drive against national institutions

Later on Aug 8, a two-judge bench, also headed by Justice Ahsan, heard the matter and questioned the counsel to convince how it fell within the criteria of public importance and could it intervene in a petition under Article 184(3) against private respondents on the grounds of public interest.

The respondents in the petition include the federation through the interior secretary, Mr Khan, former ministers Fawad Chaudhry and Shireen Mazari. It sought a directive for the formation of a commission to assess damage from the ‘hate campaign’ and suggest legal steps and proceedings to determine individual liability as well as collective responsibility and to stop the organised hate campaign against national security that adversely affected Pakistan’s relations with friendly countries.

The petition also a directive to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority, Federal Investigation Agency, the regulatory bodies, law enforcement agencies and the ECP to check the alleged hate campaign immediately and strictly deal with the violators and contemnors.

It argued it was a matter of public knowledge that since his ouster, former prime minister Imran Khan had been issuing alleged “unfounded, provocative, highly defamatory and derogatory” statements in interviews, political rallies or other means, in print and electronic media, including social media.

This alleged campaign, the petition contended, was designed and calculated to tarnish the public image and severely harm the good reputation of the judiciary, the armed forces and the ECP.

It alleged Mr Khan organised and planned the hate campaign with active administrative and financial support of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government and therefore the private and public elements in organisation, logistics and running of the impugned hate campaign were no more distinguishable. The respondents were ‘recklessly and wantonly’ issuing statements, which continued to damage and erode Pakistan’s good relations with established partners in the international community, it stated.

Published in Dawn, September 3rd, 2022

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