Government Forms Special Committee for Compliance

The federal government has informed the Supreme Court about the establishment of a “special fact-finding committee” to ensure compliance with the Supreme Court’s verdict on the 2017 sit-in by the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) at Islamabad’s Faizabad. Attorney-General for Pakistan Mansoor Usman Awan submitted a three-page report to convey this development.

In the latest development, the Attorney-General for Pakistan submitted a report to the court, stating that the government has formed a fact-finding committee “to ensure directions contained in the February 6, 2019 judgment.” The committee comprises the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) director and additional secretaries from the ministries of Defense and Interior. The committee’s responsibilities include conducting an inquiry, determining accountability in line with the terms of reference (TORs), collecting, examining, and reviewing relevant documents and records, recording statements from witnesses, assessing compliance with laws, regulations, and policies, and identifying the roles of all individuals involved in the matter. The committee is also tasked with submitting a comprehensive report with recommendations. The committee held its inaugural meeting on October 26 in accordance with the TORs and is expected to provide a fact-finding report to the Ministry of Defense by November 1, with the possibility of seeking an extension if needed. The report requested that the petitioner be allowed to submit the fact-finding report to the court upon completion.

A three-member bench, including Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa, Justice Aminuddin Khan, and Justice Athar Minallah, had heard review petitions challenging the apex court’s verdict on September 28. During the hearing, the defense ministry, the PTI, and Ijazul Haq, along with the Intelligence Bureau and the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), withdrew their pleas. This prompted the Chief Justice to question why everyone was reluctant to speak the truth. Consequently, the hearing was adjourned until November 1, and the respondents’ counsels were directed to submit a written response by October 27.

Pleas against the verdict were subsequently filed by the Ministry of Defense, the IB, the PTI, Pemra, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the Mutta­hida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Rashid, and Ijazul Haq. Authored by Justice Qazi Faez Isa before he became the Chief Justice, the judgment had instructed the defense ministry and the tri-services chiefs to penalize personnel under their command who violated their oath. It also directed the federal government to monitor and prosecute individuals advocating hate, extremism, and terrorism according to the law. The judgment also criticized several government departments for causing inconvenience to the public during the 20-day sit-in that paralyzed life in Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

Background: Faizabad Sit-In In 2017, daily life in Islamabad was disrupted for 20 days (from October 2 to November 27) when religious and political protesters occupied the Faizabad Interchange, a critical connection between Rawalpindi and Islamabad. The agitators claimed that changes made to the Khatm-i-Nabuwwat oath during the passage of the Elections Act 2017 were part of a conspiracy. The government characterized the amendment as a clerical error and corrected it through parliamentary action. The government’s attempts to negotiate with the protesters were unsuccessful, leading to a government operation to disperse the protesters, resulting in casualties. Eventually, the government called in the army for assistance and entered into negotiations with the protesters, accepting some of their demands in exchange for ending the sit-in. The agreement was signed by then Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, TLP chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi, and Gen Faiz Hameed, who was a major general at the time, among others.

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