Who is behind the ‘controversial’ cases against PTI leaders, and what will be the effects on the country?

Who is behind the ‘controversial’ cases against PTI leaders, and what will be the effects on the country?

In Pakistan, the state of law and democracy has always been a subject of debate, and there have been ongoing allegations regarding this. Even in the current circumstances, after the events of 9 May, the initiation of cases against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders, including the Chairman Imran Khan, has raised many questions about the country’s accountability system, rule of law, and democratic fortunes.

If we mention PTI’s President and former Chief Minister of Punjab, Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, they have been facing multiple cases one after another for the past few months, and despite receiving bail orders from various courts of Pakistan, they have not been released.

The judiciary has initiated proceedings against them for not complying with their orders, and there have been allegations of misconduct, penalties, and contempt of court against civil servants and police officers. Despite multiple bail orders, Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi has not been released from prison.

Parvez Elahi re-arrested moments after his release from Adiala Jail

Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi has faced cases in the past as well, but at least in the last two decades, no one has laid a hand on him in any case.

In 2018, the Supreme Court directed relevant institutions to conduct investigations and take further action regarding the illegal allotment of government land to a private housing society. However, no institution, including the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), could arrest them, up to a point.

But when they joined the PTI and served as the Chief Minister of Punjab for a few days, now, the same Pervaiz Elahi appears in one case after another, from one court to another, and from one jail to another.

At this time, Pervaiz Elahi is wanted by multiple investigative agencies in multiple cases. In his view, these actions are a result of his decision to join Imran Khan’s party.

Whenever Pervaiz Elahi is presented in court in any case, he tells media representatives that “these people” will not leave PTI no matter what they do.

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Murtaza Solangi, has conveyed the government’s position in the media, stating that “the matter of Pervaiz Elahi’s arrest is between law enforcement agencies and the judiciary. The law enforcement agencies operate under the national laws, and if any wrongdoing has occurred, the judiciary is also independent in the country, as is the media.”

According to experts, this “Might is right” principle, especially in politics, has been in play for some time, and politicians have become accustomed to the cycle of good and bad days.

Today’s minister may be tomorrow’s prisoner, and today’s prisoner may be in the seat of power tomorrow. However, who is behind all of this, where this cycle might lead, and what effects it could have on the country are questions that remain to be seen.

The dynamics of politics in Pakistan, like in many other countries, often involve shifting alliances, power struggles, and legal actions against political figures. The consequences of these actions can vary widely, impacting the political landscape, public opinion, and the functioning of government institutions. The ultimate outcome will depend on a complex interplay of factors including legal proceedings, public sentiment, and the decisions of key political actors.

During General Kayani’s tenure, to a considerable extent, the military was withdrawn from these tasks.

During General Kayani's tenure, to a considerable extent, the military was withdrawn from these tasks.

Former Defence Secretary Lieutenant General Naeem Khalid Lodhi said that given the current situation in the country, it might be better if “some people” openly declare a new system so that everyone knows who is in charge and what system is in place.

When asked who is behind all this, General Naeem Khalid stated, “The people currently dealing with these issues are as educated as we are; they have undergone the same courses as we have.”

According to General Naeem, “We haven’t done anything extraordinary in our respective roles.” However, he mentioned that during the tenure of former Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, they had to some extent removed the military from political matters.

Discussing the implications of these actions, he said, “They have intelligence, perhaps they have more accurate information, and it’s possible that those informing us may be lying, but what’s apparent is the critical situation.”

Regarding the cases against the leaders of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), General Naeem commented that history teaches us that a political party cannot be eliminated in this manner.

He also pointed out that in the past, efforts to eliminate the Pakistan People’s Party, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, and other parties were unsuccessful despite all attempts.

Without mentioning any specific institution or personality, former Defence Secretary General Naeem Khalid Lodhi said, “When someone rides a horse, it appears as if he possesses its strength, but when he dismounts from the horse, it becomes evident that the strength belonged to the horse.”

According to him, “Let’s see where those who recently dismounted from their horses are and where their power has gone.”

In General Naeem Khalid Lodhi’s opinion, the establishment isn’t just limited to the military but also includes bureaucracy, the police, and other roles that sometimes build it into a larger entity apart from the military establishment. He mentioned that in Punjab, there is currently a significant “hold” of the caretaker government, which is closely monitoring all projects as if it were a regular government.

General Naeem Khalid noted that since the elections couldn’t be held in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa within 90 days, the country’s system has been fracturing, and at this point, the system is eroding away.

He stated that if we look at the psychological aspect of these actions, the people who are engaging in unlawful activities beyond a certain limit are elevating a group and its leaders to higher levels of fame. According to him, this entire game is making a mockery of the law, and the country is suffering as a result.

In his view, “As long as the people’s will is not respected, the economic condition of the country cannot improve, and neither can political stability be achieved.”

He believes that if the people are not listened to, and any system is imposed without their consent, the country cannot be extricated from the quagmire.

“The real test of the judiciary has now begun.”

Building - Supreme Court of Pakistan

A lawyer from the Supreme Court, on the condition of not disclosing their name, informed that this is the darkest period in the history of the judiciary. However, he also mentioned that judges like Babar Sattar are a ray of hope.

Senior lawyer Faisal Siddiqi has a different perspective. According to him, it is not accurate to say that the judiciary is compromised or that the judgments of the judiciary are not being implemented.

Faisal Siddiqi argues that if the judiciary has given 12 orders for the release of Pervaiz Elahi, then Pervaiz Elahi has been released 12 times. He says that when the judiciary grants bail, it doesn’t say that the accused cannot be arrested in any other case.

However, he points out that when the judiciary feels that the state is being insulted, and wants to keep someone in jail at all costs, then in such cases, the judiciary issues orders that the accused cannot be arrested in any other case without the court’s permission.

Faisal Siddiqi also mentions that when the Lahore High Court ordered Pervaiz Elahi’s release and directed not to arrest him in any other case, in response, the Islamabad Police Inspector General (IG) violated the court’s order and arrested him in Lahore.

According to Advocate Faisal Siddiqi, the courts have issued non-bailable arrest warrants against Islamabad Police IG Akbar Naseer Khan for contempt of court, and the proceedings of contempt of court have begun. Now is the phase where the judiciary’s test has begun.

In response to a question, Faisal Siddiqi explained that the judiciary takes action against those who violate its orders. He mentioned that everyone knows that intelligence agencies issue orders to the Inspector Generals, but the judiciary is interested in finding out who has violated its orders.

Faisal Siddiqi argues that if the judicial process does not reach a logical conclusion, it can be said that the judiciary’s writ and prestige have been affected.

“The constitution exists in the country, and yet it doesn’t.”

group photo with imran khan

In the opinion of Advocate Abid Saqi, a prominent lawyer and leader of the Pakistan Bar Council, the current political situation is in front of everyone. The dignity of the law has largely disappeared, and the courts have lost their independence.

According to him, the law enforcement agencies are picking up people according to their own discretion, and open violations of the law are taking place.

Abid Saqi states that it is necessary to present anyone arrested before the courts within 24 hours because the constitution guarantees the fundamental human rights of citizens.

He further emphasizes, “Now the situation is such that the country has both the constitution and not, the courts are both protectors of rights and not.”

According to the lawyer, when a release order is issued by a court, arrest warrants are received from somewhere, contempt of court proceedings are initiated for obeying court orders, and in some cases, advice is given to accused individuals during press conferences to abscond.

He believes that there is a widespread violation of human rights on a large scale.

Regarding the arrests of leaders of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Additional Secretary General Omar Ayub of PTI stated in a statement that “This is an SOP under which PTI leaders are abducted, and then they are kept in illegal detention for several days.”

According to him, these leaders are only released when they express disassociation from the PTI after facing prolonged mental and physical torture.

“Such actions pose a challenge to the rule of law and democracy.”

Hina Jilani, the Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), has told that her organization has a very clear stance regarding arrests made under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA). According to her, no one should be arrested under this act, and if there are any cases against someone, their trial should take place in the courts.

Hina Jilani states that HRCP is against “pre-trial detention,” which means that individuals cannot be held in custody for an extended period before a case is proven against them.

She believes that everyone should have fair trials and transparent access to justice.

According to her, HRCP does not comment on individual personalities or parties, but it is essential for the government and the courts to exercise their authority while taking action against anyone, whether it is related to events like May 9 or any other matter.

She argues that pre-trial arrests are a violation of human rights. According to Hina Jilani, “arbitrary detentions” and practices like enforced disappearances are affected by the “rule of law.”

According to the Chairperson of HRCP, those in political power have an impact on democracy, and the country is experiencing further polarization.

Hina Jilani emphasizes that this is not a new phenomenon, as only the political roles change. According to her, today’s affected politicians will be beneficiaries tomorrow, but the effects of the “rule of law” have a direct impact on the general public.

She suggests that this is not a prolonged issue, and the methods of using the stick have also changed. According to her, Lahore Fort’s gate is not open anymore, where political activists and leaders were beaten during protests.

She points out that there is a difference in the struggle, and somewhere or the other, the pressure of the “rule of law” increases. According to her, the “rule of law” also means that when someone commits a crime, they should receive punishment. Hina Jilani says that the May 9 incident was not a result of the rule of law, but rather an act of vengeance. This series is not over; voices are still raised against such injustices, disrespect for the law, and the humiliation of the judiciary.

When was Pervez Elahi arrested and in which case?

Pervez Elahi was first arrested on June 1 in Lahore, immediately after the events of May 9. He was initially taken into custody by authorities on charges of benefiting financially from development projects in an alleged manner.

However, on June 2, the local courts in Lahore granted him bail in these charges. Shortly after his release, he was arrested again in another case related to corruption in development projects, this time in the Gujranwala region.

On June 3, the local court in Gujranwala dismissed both cases related to corruption against him and ordered his release. After his release, he was immediately arrested again in connection with alleged illegal appointments in the Punjab Assembly.

During this period, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) initiated another investigation against Pervez Elahi for alleged embezzlement in development projects in Gujarat and Mandi Bahauddin.

On June 12, the Session Court declared his acquittal in the corruption cases, but he was sent to jail on judicial remand. On June 20, Pervez Elahi was granted relief by the Lahore Anti-Terrorism Court, but his release could not be implemented because the jail authorities did not receive the release orders.

On the same day, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) filed a case against him for money laundering, and he was taken back into custody and placed on judicial remand for another 14 days.

In the month of June, legal proceedings for his release and subsequent actions on various cases continued. In September, Islamabad High Court ordered his release in the case of terrorism but immediately after his release, he was re-arrested under the National Security Act (NSA) for allegedly causing a disturbance in the Judicial Complex.

On September 8, the Islamabad Anti-Terrorism Court sent Chaudhry Pervez Elahi on a 14-day judicial remand in the case related to the ransacking of the Judicial Complex. Then, on September 15, the Islamabad Anti-Terrorism Court approved bail for him in the Judicial Complex ransacking case. However, on September 16, he was once again arrested in another case related to violence.

The cycle of bail and release for Pervez Elahi is ongoing as he is currently in jail.

 

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