The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday dismissed a petition seeking “high treason proceedings” against PTI Chairman Imran Khan and the placement of his name on the Exit Control List (ECL).
The petition filed by Advocate Molvi Iqbal Haider under Article 199 of the Constitution had called for initiating proceedings under the High Treason (Punishment) Act 1973 against Khan, PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi, PTI spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry, PTI leader Qasim Khan Suri as well as Pakistan’s ambassador the United States. It had also requested that their names be placed in the ECL.
Additionally, the petition had sought an investigation into the contents of a cable sent from the then US ambassador Asad Majeed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. According to recently ousted prime minister Khan, the cable, which he first spoke of and brandished at a public rally on March 27, carried details of the ambassador’s meeting with Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Affairs Donald Lu in which the latter allegedly threatened Pakistan. Khan and his party linked the purported threat with the no-trust move against him in the National Assembly that led to his ouster from the top office.
Majeed, in the cable, reportedly said that Lu warned that Khan’s continuation as the prime minister would have repercussions for bilateral relations. The US, Khan claims, was annoyed with his “independent foreign policy” and visit to Moscow.
The IHC dismissed the petition as “frivolous”, adding that the petitioner had attempted to make the cable “controversial”. A fine of Rs100,000 was also imposed on the petitioner.
The court order, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, said: “The rhetoric of treason is deprecated. No citizen can claim to be more patriotic than the other. Likewise no citizen has the right to declare others as having committed treason.”
It said the allegations made against Khan in the petition were “deprecated” and making a cable that had been sent by a Pakistani diplomat “controversial and the subject of litigation” was against the public and state’s interests.
“It is an onerous duty of every citizen to ensure that sensitive national security issues are not sensationalised nor politicised.
IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah presided over the hearing on the petition earlier today.
Advocate Haider, the petitioner, told the court that the opposition parties had submitted a no-confidence motion against former prime minister Imran Khan on March 8 and yet the cable and its contents were not spoken of until March 27.
Haider was questioned why he wanted to politicise a matter of a “sensitive nature”, with Justice Minallah pointing out that it was a cable instead of a letter and that there was a difference between the two.
The petitioner replied that it had been referred to as a letter in the media and newspapers and he was concerned over the matter as a citizen. “An attempt was made to damage relations with the US,” he said.
When Haider told the court that former military ruler General Pervez Musharraf had violated the Constitution, Justice Minallah asked him to not compare Musharraf with Khan since the latter was an elected prime minister.
The petitioner said the interior secretary should ensure an investigation into the cable that allegedly threatened to topple Khan’s government, adding that it was the responsibility of the federal government to investigate the matter.
“The federation should take the matter to the International Court of Justice,” he pleaded, adding that Khan, Chaudhry, Qureshi, Suri and Ambassador Majeed must also be placed on the no-fly list.
“An order should be given to send the complaint to the trial court for prosecution of a high treason case against the persons concerned. I want that the inquiry is carried out through the interior and defence secretaries,” the petitioner requested.