The federal cabinet on Friday decided to form a committee to determine whether treason charges under Article 6 of the Constitution should be levelled against several leaders of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), including chairman Imran Khan, in line with a ruling of the Supreme Court.
In its detailed judgment on a suo motu notice over former National Assembly deputy speaker Qasim Suri’s dismissal of a vote of no-confidence against then-prime minister Imran Khan, the court rejected the PTI’s “foreign conspiracy” narrative, noting it had not been presented any evidence to prove these claims.
Describing Suri’s actions as “illegal,” it said the PTI-led government had plenty of time between receiving the alleged “threats” on March 7 and the vote on April 3 to conduct an inquiry and establish a “foreign conspiracy.” While the ruling did not spell out any penalties for the offenders, an additional note authored by Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel urged parliamentarians to determine if President Arif Alvi, then-P.M. Khan, then-NA speaker Asad Qaiser, then-deputy speaker Suri and former law minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain should be prosecuted under Article 6 for violating their authority.
Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb, in a post-cabinet meeting press conference, said a special committee led by Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar would determine if treason proceedings should be initiated and submit a report in the next meeting of the federal cabinet. Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, the information minister and representatives of all coalition partners would also be included in the committee, she added.
Aurangzeb said the cabinet had decided that constitutional disobedience and violations, as well as attacks on Parliament, should be taken seriously to avoid any future attempts of the same. The inquiry committee would cover all the points raised by the court, she added.
Tayyaba Gul case
The information minister said the cabinet had also decided to appoint a commission of inquiry under the COI Act, 2017 to probe all aspects of allegations voiced by Tayyaba Gul and other women against former National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman Justice (retd.) Javed Iqbal, who also heads the Commission on Enforced Disappearances. The commission would also investigate the alleged involvement of the Prime Minister’s Office in the matter, she added.
According to Aurangzeb, the law minister would head a committee to finalize the terms of reference of the inquiry commission, adding he would also suggest a panel to choose who should head it and submit to the cabinet for approval.
Summarizing the case, she said Gul had filed a complaint with the Citizen’s Portal of the prime minister during the ousted PTI-led government against the alleged sexual harassment and abuse she had suffered at the hands of the former NAB chairman. Gul has claimed she was told her complaint was initially referred to the Human Rights Ministry. After a few days, she said the victim had been called to the P.M. Office, where she and her husband were “held in captivity” for 18 days.
Alleging that the former government had “abducted” Gul and kept her hostage, the minister said it had used the evidence collected from her to blackmail and pressure the former NAB chairman to drop cases against the PTI and target the political opponents of Imran Khan. This was a means to compromise the institution of NAB, claimed Aurangzeb, and use it for political objectives and victimization.
The minister also alleged that Javed Iqbal had been accused of being a “habitual harasser,” as several women had lodged complaints against him in his capacity as chairman of the commission on enforced disappearances. “This was inevitable during the tenure of a prime minister [Imran Khan] who used to blame the clothing of rape victims for the crime,” she said, adding that these complaints would also be placed before the commission.
Aurangzeb stressed that the inquiry commission would be time-bound, adding it would be required to provide a timeline for how long its probe could take.