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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) prayed before the Supreme Court to direct the federal and the Punjab governments not to torture or arrest or use any force or coercive measures or intimidating tactics against its supporters, workers, members and leaders, who want to peacefully hold any protest in Islamabad.

PTI Secretary General Asad Umar on Wednesday filed a petition under Article 184(3) of the Constitution and cited the secretary Ministry of Interior, Inspector Generals of Police of all the four provinces and the ICT, Home Secretaries of all the provinces and the Chief Commissioner ICT as respondents.

The petitioner further prayed that not to create any hindrance or obstacle whatsoever, including blocking access to or from any place or city in any manner (inter alia by putting up containers etc) or from restricting the movement of the people in any manner and through any means, and also not use violence including force or any strong-arm tactics against any citizen, supporter, worker, member or leader of the Petitioner who chooses to participate in the upcoming peaceful Assembly.

Umar submitted that they approached the apex court for a definite determination on the relevant questions of public importance, with reference to the enforcement of fundamental rights. He sought the indulgence of the Court to conclusively determine the contours and substance of the questions raised in the instant petition.

It informed that the government is trying to use different illegal tactics to squash and suppress the petitioner and its party leadership/workers and the people of Pakistan who want to record their peaceful protest in Islamabad and by way of arrest and raiding their homes. In series of these illegal acts/misuse of power government has hence raided even the residence of the PTI’s Chairman Imran Khan and its workers’ residences and arrested.

It stated that as part of its illegal intimidation process, the government has also illegally arresting a number of innocent political leaders, workers, and PTI supporters, crushing people’s right to assemble peacefully. Furthermore, the government has lodged many fake FIRs against free-minded journalists also who aired public sentiments through broadcasting across electronic and digital media, on which this Court has also shown serious concerns for freedom of speech and expression.

Barrister Ali Zafar, who had filed the petition, submitted that the PTI had planned to peacefully hold large assemblies on 25.05.2022, across various cities of Pakistan, and to peacefully march towards Islamabad, in order to protest the removal of PTI’s government, and to seek “real freedom”. The purpose of the assemblies was to rally the people of Pakistan, protest and draw the attention of the incumbent government towards the public sentiments.

It contended that however, unfortunately, contrary to the mandate of fundamental rights, guaranteed under the Constitution – in particular those relating to freedom of movement, freedom of assembly and association, freedom of expression, freedom of information and due process – the Respondents, under directions of the Ministry of Interior and the government of Punjab, arrested people from their houses, baton-charged peaceful protestors, tear-gassed peaceful gatherings, destroyed private property, and even inflicted torture that resulted in the death of at least five members of the petitioner, who were merely exercising their fundamental rights in a peaceful and organised manner.

The Punjab government officials began harassing, intimidating, arresting and torturing the PTI workers and leaders, who only wanted to participate in the planned protests, in the exercise of their democratic rights. The Punjab government officials also started installing roadblocks and containers etc all throughout the routes leading to Islamabad, and other routes outside various cities and towns, including the Motorways.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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