A district and sessions court in Islamabad on Thursday discharged Lt. Gen. (retd.) Amjad Shoaib from a case in which he was accused of “inciting the public against national institutions.”
The soldier-turned-analyst was taken into custody earlier this week after a case was lodged against him by a magistrate over a TV appearance in which he had rubbished the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)’s “Jail Bharo” movement and suggested alternate means of protest that could prove more fruitful. The First Information Report (FIR) registered against him had cited sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups) and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) of the Pakistan Penal Code for the case.
After being arrested, Shoaib was remanded in police custody for three days, and was produced in court today (Thursday) after it expired. During today’s hearing on a review petition filed by the accused, Shoaib’s lawyer argued that the case against his client was filed on the basis of remarks that did not constitute any call to mutiny. Stressing that Shoaib was not denying his remarks, he said that the minimal impact of the TV appearance could be gauged by no one filing a case against it for more than 24 hours after it was broadcast.
Taking the rostrum, the former general clarified that he had never supported long marches or sit-ins. “I was talking about history that nothing has ever been achieved from sit-ins and rallies,” he said, adding that he had merely noted other forms of protest that had proven successful in the past.
Concluding his arguments, Shoaib’s lawyer urged the court to dismiss the case, with the judge asking the prosecutor why the accused still needed to remain behind bars. According to the prosecutor, investigators had yet to conduct a photogrammetric test of the accused. To this, the judge questioned why Shoaib’s identity could not be verified through NADRA and was told it was the prerogative of the investigator to decide how to probe the case.
Following a brief recess after all arguments were concluded, the judge dismissed the charges against Shoaib and allowed him to go free.
Prior to the retired general’s release, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan had condemned the arrest, describing it as the jailing of a “respected, patriotic Pakistani” on sedition charges.