0
6

Pak committee formed to deliberate treason references against PTI leadership

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb announced on Friday that the federal cabinet has approved forming a committee to mull whether the government should file a reference under Article 6 (high treason) against PTI’s top brass — including former prime minister Imran Khan — in light of the Supreme Court’s recent verdict.

Talking to journalists during a post-cabinet meeting press conference, the information minister said the cabinet approved the formation of a committee under Minister for Law Azam Nazeer Tarar.

Aurangzeb said the cabinet, which met with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in the chair, welcomed the Supreme Court’s detailed judgment in a suo motu case related to the ruling by former National Assembly deputy speaker Qasim Suri on the no-confidence motion against then-PM Khan.

On April 3, before voting could commence against Khan, Suri dismissed the vote, describing it as “unconstitutional”, and backed by “foreign powers”.

The SC’s detailed judgment, however, rejected PTI’s foreign conspiracy claims and said the courts give verdicts on evidence not speculations.

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and former president Asif Ali Zardari along a with Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Rana Sanaullah and Ayaz Sadiq discussing the strategy against PTI and its leadership at a meeting held in Islamabad.

The court noted that no inquiry was ordered into the matter to ascertain the nature or extent of involvement of any person in Pakistan to seek or receive the support of a foreign state to move the no-confidence motion.

Moreover, in an additional note, Justice Mazahar Alam Khan Miankhel observed that President Arif Alvi, then PM Khan, then NA speaker Asad Qaiser, ex-deputy speaker Suri, and former law minister Fawad Chaudhry had violated their authority, and left it up to the parliamentarians to decide whether their acts could be prosecuted under Article 6.

“A special committee has been formed under the chairmanship of law minister Azam Nazeer Tarar […] which will present its suggestions in the next meeting of the federal cabinet,” said Aurangzeb in her briefing today.

Marriyum Aurangzeb said that the federal cabinet has constituted a special committee to deliberate whether action should be taken against the PTI leadership under Article 6 of the Constitution.

Article 6 states that any person who “abrogates or subverts or suspends or holds in abeyance, or attempts or conspires to abrogate or subvert or suspend or hold in abeyance, the Constitution by use of force or show of force or by any other unconstitutional means shall be guilty of high treason”.

The development on the government exploring Article 6 proceedings against the PTI leadership comes after the Supreme Court released a detailed judgement explaining the reasons why it dismissed former National Assembly deputy speaker Qasim Khan Suri’s controversial ruling on the no-trust move against then-prime minister Imran Khan.

“Whether these acts attract Article 6 of the Constitution (high treason) is also left open to be determined by the parliamentarians to ponder should they leave open the doors for such unconstitutional acts or take suitable measures to stop such like mess in future,” Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel in an additional note in the judgement.

In her press conference in Islamabad today, Marriyum dilated upon decisions taken by the federal cabinet.

Minister for Information Mariyum Aurangzeb addresses a press conference in Islamabad on July 15, 2022.

She said a special committee has been formed under the leadership of law minister Azam Nazeer Tarar, which will present its suggestions in the next federal cabinet meeting.

She said that the committee would present a report on the implementation of the points put forward by the SC and suggest an inquiry under Article 6 and other laws to prevent constitutional violations from occurring in the future.

The top court’s detailed verdict stated that Suri had breached his constitutional duty by dismissing the no-confidence motion.

Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial said the April 3 ruling failed to qualify for the protection of the internal proceedings of parliament under Article 69(1) as it was “not the outcome of a vote in the national assembly instead, it was a unilateral decision”. The law states: “The validity of any proceedings in Majlis-i-Shoora (Parliament) shall not be called in question on the ground of any irregularity of procedure.”

Justice Bandial also observed that the controversial action by the deputy speaker triggered a chain of events, the most concerning aspect of which was that it allowed the then PM to claim the constitutionally repugnant outcome of avoiding the no-trust motion without a vote by the assembly.

The government had hailed the verdict while the PTI had termed it to be full of “contradictions”. The PTI chief had also said he was “deeply hurt” by the judgement.

Aurangzeb said that the prime minister and the ministers had lauded the detailed verdict.

“The judgement has proven that the previous government passed unconstitutional orders,” she said, asserting that now was the time to decide whether the “murder of Pakistan’s Constitution, democracy, and laws” was acceptable.

“Hence, the cabinet committee will suggest measures that can be taken against Imran Khan and his government for violating the Constitution and present a report in the next meeting,” she added.

Commission to probe Tayyaba Gul case

The minister also said that the cabinet had approved the formation of an independent inquiry commission to investigate the Tayyaba Gul case.

In 2019, a video clip surfaced featuring Gul and then-National Accountability Bureau chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal, which politicians later alleged was used to “blackmail” him into moving against the then-opposition.

Earlier this month, she appeared before the Public Accounts Committee and made shocking allegations about Iqbal.

Aurangzeb said Gul had also claimed that she was “held captive at the Prime Minister’s Office for 18 days” during Imran’s tenure.

“She had filed a harassment complaint at the PM’s portal after which she was called to the PM’s Office and illegally held captive,” the minister said.

Later, all the evidence and videos collected in the case were used against the NAB chief, she alleged.

“Imran Khan […] blackmailed Javed Iqbal and compromised an institution for political means,” Aurangzeb claimed.

“Therefore, we have decided to form an inquiry commission,” she said, adding that the law minister would work on formulating the body’s terms of reference and present them before the cabinet at the next meeting.