ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) turned down a writ petition praying it to direct the secretary Ministry of Interior to conduct an inquiry regarding the “threat letter”, and forward the same to the relevant court for trial of high treason against former Prime Minister Imran Khan and his aides.
A single bench of Chief Justice Athar Minallah heard the petition of Moulvi Iqbal Haider Advocate, wherein, he stated that by fabricating a ‘letter gate conspiracy’, the political government has committed high treason, thus, his complaint pending with Secretary Interior be, under directions, forwarded to the relevant court for trial of high treason against the former prime minister and his aides.
In his petition, Haider sought directions to the federal government for probing the contents of the cable sent by the Ambassador of Pakistan in the United States of America to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan. He also sought a direction for initiating proceedings under the High Treason (Punishment) Act, 1973 against Imran Khan, former prime minister, Fawad Chaudhry, former federal minister, and the Ambassador of Pakistan in the United States of America.
In addition, he prayed that their names be ordered to be placed on the Exit Control List. The bench noted; “Dragging the diplomats and their classified reporting and assessments into political controversies could undermine Pakistan’s national interests, its diplomacy and external relations.”
The IHC; therefore, dismissed the petition and declared it frivolous and said attempt to make the cable controversial. It imposed Rs100,000 fine on the petitioner. The bench noted that it is settled law that matters relating to foreign affairs of the country are extremely sensitive and, therefore, not justiciable while exercising extraordinary jurisdiction under Article 199 of the Constitution.
It stated that the assertions made in the memorandum of the petition are vague and they are not supported by any credible material so as to justify making of a diplomatic cable as the subject of the litigation in hand.
The diplomatic cables are of immense importance and have a limited access. They are classified because they enable the Pakistani diplomats to write assessments and analysis uninhabited including disclosing rare things. The diplomats have the assurance that their reporting and assessments would be fully protected and shall not be sensationalized or politicized, maintained the bench.
It continued that it is a fundamental duty of every diplomat across the globe to share their assessments, analysis and conclusions with the respective countries that they represent. The court also said that such assessments and analysis are invariably based on informal conversations with officials of the host governments and every diplomat of Pakistan is expected to faithfully and honestly convey what he or she may hear or see. Justice Minallah said, “Keeping in view the nature of the diplomatic cables and the need to keep them confidential, it is definitely not in public interest or in the interest of integrity of the State to make the cables subject of political controversies or litigation.
This is likely to have profound consequences for the functioning of the foreign office because it would discourage diplomats from candid, faithful and honest reporting besides undermining the integrity of the communication systems available to them as tools for performing their onerous functions.”
He added that by making diplomatic cables the subject of political debate or litigation definitely impacts the credibility, reliability and effectiveness of the working of the foreign office and bringing sensitive and informal diplomatic conversations into public domain is likely to harm the image of Pakistan and its foreign policy.
He further said that it is, therefore, contrary to public interest and national security to make diplomatic cables controversial. The IHC CJ said that the cable referred to in the petition was sent by a diplomat who is known for his outstanding professionalism and competence and it was placed before the National Security Committee. “It appears that the latter was satisfied that no probe was required. Such sensitive and complex matters ought to be dealt with by the foreign office of Pakistan, rather making them controversial through litigation,” maintained the IHC CJ.
Justice Minallah said likewise, no citizen has the right to declare others as having committed treason and every citizen is presumed to be patriotic and loyal to the State unless otherwise declared by a competent court of law.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022