Police in Lahore have formed a joint investigation team (JIT) to probe into the allegations of sedition leveled against almost the entire PML-N leadership including former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz in an First Information Report (FIR) registered last week.
Lahore Inspector General Police (IGP) Inam Ghani on Friday formed a four-member JIT to be headed by Central Investigation Agency (CIA) Superintendent Police Asim Iftikhar Kamboh.
It also includes Shafiqabad Deputy Superintendent Police Muhammad Ghias, CIA Iqbal Town In-charge Inspector Tariq Ilyas Kiyani and Shahdara Police In-charge Investigation Sub Inspector Shabbir Awan.
According to sources, the JIT has formally started its investigation into the charges leveled in the FIR. However, so far the police have neither carried out any raids nor arrested any of the accused.
In an interesting development, the Lahore police on October 5 registered a sedition case against almost all key leaders of the PML-N including Nawaz, Maryam and even Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider.
The FIR was registered at Lahore’s Shahdara Police Station on the complaint of an allegedly private citizen Badar Rasheed, a day after authorities booked Captain (retd) Muhammad Safdar, Nawaz’s son-in-law, under sedition charges for “provoking people against the state and its institutions.”
The complainant claimed that Nawaz through his speeches delivered respectively at the opposition’s All Parties Conference (APC) and the PML-N’s Central Workers Committee and Central Executive Committee meetings on September 20 and October 1 committed sedition and criminal conspiracy.
He had also nominated PML-N leaders – also including Raja Zafarul Haq, Ayaz Sadiq, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Khuram Dastaghir, Iqbal Zafar Jhaghra, Ahsan Iqbal, Pervaiz Rashid, Rana Sana Ullah, Khawaja Asif, Zakia Shahnawaz, Khawaja Saad Rafique and Amir Maqam – for favoring Nawaz’s position through their physical or virtual presence at the events and by raising hands.
PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif was, however, not included among the accused.
Interestingly, the PTI led federal government was quick to distance itself from the FIR and said it had nothing to do with the case. The federal information minister had also told media persons in Karachi that the government was not behind the FIR.
The FIR included Section 120-A (criminal conspiracy), 121-A (waging or attempting to wage war or abetting waging of war against Pakistan) and 123-A (condemnation of the creation of the state, and advocacy of abolition of its sovereignty) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).
It also included the PPC’s Section 124-(assaulting president, governor etc with intention to compel or restrain the exercise of any lawful power), Section 124-A (sedition), Section 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot), Section 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups) and Section 505 (statements conducing to public mischief).
The FIR also invoked Section 10 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (Peca) 2016.
It alleged that Nawaz Sharif’s speeches on September 20 and October 1 were aimed at sabotaging the country’s efforts to exit the grey list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) – the global authority that makes policy against terror financing and money laundering – whose meeting is soon to take place.
“The purpose of his speeches was to isolate Pakistan in the international community and get it declared a rogue state. For this purpose, he made speeches on September 20 and October 1 respectively at an APC and the PML-N’s Central Workers Committee and Central Executive Committee,” it alleged.
The convicted former prime minister broke his long silence at the PPP-hosted APC on September 20, declaring that the opposition was not up against Prime Minister Imran Khan but those who had “brought him into power” in 2018.
Nawaz had also accused the military establishment and other state institutions of meddling in the political affairs of the country. Later addressing his party leaders, the PML-N supreme leader had said “someone else” was controlling the parliament during the PTI’s rule.
The complaint said Nawaz had been making hateful and provocative speeches under a well thought criminal conspiracy from London against Pakistan and its institutions to bring a bad name to them
It said Nawaz Sharif is a person convicted by the court of law and the purpose of his speeches was also to incite citizens especially his party members against the ruling quarters of Pakistan.
“Nawaz is inciting the public through the media for rebellion against a democratically elected government so that a game of blood and fire could be played here,” he said. It said the purpose of his speeches was also to take attention away from the atrocities committed against Kashmiris by India.
“[Nawaz also wanted] to defame armed forces of Pakistan and the courts among the international community and to present the military leadership as anti-democracy and to favor his friend, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The laws of Pakistan do not allow it.”