Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Thursday filed a petition before the Supreme Court (SC) seeking proceedings into what he described as an “undeclared martial law” in parts of the country and the ongoing crackdown targeting his party’s leaders, workers and supporters.
Filed through lawyer Hamid Khan, the petition urges the apex court to probe the government’s decision to deploy the armed forces in aid of civil power in Islamabad, Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa under Article 245 of the Constitution. “The dictated exercise of this power by the federal cabinet in the absence of objective conditions for the exercise of that power is clearly violative of the fundamental rights,” read the petition.
Additionally, the wide-ranging petition—which appears to incorporate several seemingly unrelated pleas—reiterates Khan’s demand for the conduct of an independent judicial inquiry into the May 9 riots to fix responsibility on the culprits as well as the “killing of several dozen protesters by the law enforcement agencies in direct and indiscriminate firing upon the unarmed crowds” and the ongoing arrests of PTI supporters.
It further calls into question the legal and constitutional status of proposed trials of civilians under the Amy Act and Officials Secrets Act, maintaining that the Lahore Corps Commanders’ house is a “civilian house for legal purposes” and thus does not fall within the ambit of military courts. Further, it questions whether the “trial of civil offenses committed by civilians under the Army Act is against the provisions of Article 4,9, 10 A, 14 and 25 of the Constitution read with U.N. Charter of Human Rights and other international charters.”
The petition also argues that trying civilians in military courts would be akin to denying them the right to life, due process and fair trial, the dignity of man and equal protection of law.
The petition similarly seeks judicial instructions on whether the “unlawful and unconstitutional” dismantling of the PTI is in violation of law and contends that the “deliberate, malafide, contumacious disregard” for court judgments passed by the SC concerning the provision of elections ought to be determined judicially.
The PTI chief has also sought the SC’s notice of “unlawful arrests” of party leaders and others accused of vandalizing state buildings “without the registration of cases under the applicable laws.” The petition further seeks “a declaration from this honorable court” to reiterate the sanctity of the Constitution, “protect” it, and recommend ways to ensure compliance with it and enforcement of fundamental rights.
The petition also deplored the arrests and detentions of PTI party members, supporters and workers under the Maintenance of Public Order as unconstitutional. “The dismantling of PTI through forcible quitting of party membership and office,” it argued, “are unconstitutional and void of being against Article 17 of the Constitution.” It further contends that the use of armed forces to target a political party is a threat to parliamentary democracy, adding it violates Article 4 of the Constitution.
Referring to a recent statement of Defense Minister Khawaja Asif claiming a ban on the PTI is “under consideration,” the petition questions if this is a tactic to deny conducting elections and eventually oust Khan and his party from the electoral process.
Explaining the “historical background” of the petition, it argues that Khan has “always respected the armed forces” and his party and its leaders have “never been involved in violence of anti-state activities.” The PTI chief further accuses former prime minister Nawaz Sharif of being a “habitual conspirator” and alleges he, his daughter Maryam Nawaz, and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari have “hatched a terrible plan to eliminate the petitioner and get PTI declared as a terrorist organization.”
Claiming he had immediately condemned the events of May 9 after being informed of them, Khan argues that a “national leader cannot be allowed to be crucified at the altar of expediency, selfishness and political objectives.” Accusing the government of a media “blackout” about the killing of rioters by law enforcement agencies, it cites a media report as claiming this is all being done at the behest of the armed forces. “The anger of the high-ups in the armed forces against their own people is not justified,” it states, calling for “restraint” and “amnesty.”
“The respondents intend to create wrong impression about the armed forces, which is the main objective and target of Maryam Nawaz who has found in it a great opportunity to take revenge for the removal of her father from power by the establishment,” it states, indirectly suggesting that Nawaz Sharif was ousted by the military and not the courts, as Khan has repeatedly claimed earlier. It also accuses Sharif of leaving the country on medical ground through a deal with the establishment, despite his party leaders claiming permission for it was granted by the federal cabinet. It also seeks to have declared void all appointments made through consultations with Leader of the Opposition Raja Riaz, describing them as unconstitutional.