Pakistan HC puts former army chief, his spymaster on notice

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Islamabad [Pakistan], October 11: Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Aamer Farooq on Monday issued notices to former army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa, ex-spymaster Faiz Hamid and two journalists, in response to a petition seeking legal proceedings for allegedly flouting the Official Secrets Act, Dawn reported.

In the petition, a Pakistani citizen, Atif Ali, sought the registration of a case against the journalists and the former generals over news reports regarding the ex-military officers’ role in politics.

The director general of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) was also put on notice. Justice Farooq heard the petition on October 4, but the court order was released on Monday.

The petitioner contended that the interview of ex-Gen Bajwa was conducted in a “reckless” manner and the journalists, Javed Chaudhry and Shahid Maitla, did not show any sense of responsibility in publishing them. The petition claimed the revelations made in the interview(s) were a violation of the Official Secrets Act and tantamount to inciting mutiny and disharmony.

The petition requested the court to issue directions to the director general of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to register an FIR against the former COAS, former ISI chief, and the journalists. Besides, it also sought directions from the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) to impose a ban on the two journalists.

Initially, the registrar’s office of the IHC in March this year raised an objection, saying that the high court was not an appropriate forum and asked the petitioner to approach the relevant authorities. When the petition was heard by the chief justice, he asked the FIA DG to proceed in accordance with the law. However, the petitioner during the hearing informed the court that the investigation agency did not take any action.

Justice Farooq then issued notices to all respondents, which included Gen Bajwa, ex-ISI DG, journalists Chaudhry and Maitla, and the FIA.

General Bajwa reportedly discussed various matters, including the no-confidence motion, against PTI Chairman Imran Khan, civil-military relations and other issues in interviews with the journalists. The petitioner also annexed these articles with the petition.

As per Dawn, the petition stated that the authors of these news articles allegedly distorted facts in order to enhance the viewership. It further said that the articles raised certain questions on the conduct of military authorities which required to be probed

The petitioner claimed that the respondents had committed a “cognisable offence” and were liable to proceed in accordance with the relevant laws. The court adjourned the hearing till a date to be fixed by the registrar’s office.

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