PTI Govt Flouted 2016 IHC Judgement By Allowing TLP’s Faizabad Rally
Hundreds of protestors belonging to Tehreek-e- Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) have blocked roads in Rawalpindi on Sunday, demanding the expulsion of French ambassador for the blasphemous cartoons published in France last month. Several policemen including an SHO have been injured in clashes with the protestors.
This is not the first time the city has come on a standstill due to protests. People are questioning as to why the TLP was allowed to go ahead with its rally given that a previous TLP rally led by Khadim Rizvi in 2017 had created unrest in the capital. Apart from the potential to create unrest, the PTI government also ignored a judgment of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) about handling protests in the capital to ensure they don’t cause disturbance to the citizens.
In 2014 Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), now the ruling party staged 126 day sit-in in the capital territory which disrupted the everyday life of residents.
In a detailed judgment of Islamabad High Court (IHC) about the disruption of life during the PTI sit-in, Justice Shaukat Ali Siddiqui had remarked that the right to protest and assembly is guaranteed by the constitution, however “the right was a subject to legal restrictions.”
The decision read that it was “mandatory” for the the PTI to give a “prior notice” of the protest to the District Administration and tell the place and time of the proposed rally. It also stated that it was the responsibility of the PTI to ensure that the protest took place within the ambit of law.
“On the threshold of equality, the fundamental rights of a particular person/party cannot supersede the rights of the rest of the populace.” Justice Siddiqui remarked while referring to the roads blockages and disruption of everyday life in Islamabad-Rawalpindi during the PTI sit in.
Islamabad High Court directed the federal government to formulate such a plan in which the right to protest is not taken away, but remains within the ambit of law while “pursuing the broader aims of national security and public safety”. The court also ordered that the future rallies and protests should be “confined to the Democracy Park and Speech Corner” to ensure the right to protest, while also making sure the fundamental rights of those who disagree with such politics.
Justice Siddiqui also said that in order to protect the fundamental rights of people, the state is “duty-bound” to implement all the “remedial steps” in accordance with the law and if anyone attempts to disrupt the normal life of city, the administration has the right to “deal with the situation” according to law.
TLP also staged a sit-in for several days in November 2017 against the government of Pakistan Muslim League N for allegedly trying to change the oath in which the belief in the finality of prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is declared. The sit-in was marred with violence and disruption of everyday life. The sit-in was called off after the slight change in the terms were taken back by the government.