Govt petitioned to initiate Article 6 proceedings against Ayaz Sadiq: Ijaz Shah

Web Desk

NANKANA SAHAB: Interior Minister Ijaz Ahmed Shah on Saturday said that the federal government has received several petitions seeking charges under Article 6 of the Constitution against former National Assembly speaker Ayaz Sadiq. Article 6 defines the crime of high treason.

Addressing a ceremony in Nankana Sahab, Shah said the petitions, received in Islamabad and Lahore, have been sent for legal review.

Shah's statement comes a day after Information Minister Shibli Faraz hinted at legal action against the PML-N leader over his controversial claims regarding the circumstances surrounding the release of Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman.

Read more: Shibli Faraz hints at legal action against Ayaz Sadiq

“Ayaz Sadiq has passed a very wrong statement about Indian pilot Abhinandan and the army chief,” Shah said. 

Slamming the opposition party, the interior minister said he dismissed the allegations leveled against the Pakistan Army "from abroad", and swore that all this was an attempt to secure the Opposition's looted wealth. 

'Abhinandan freed under pressure'

Two senior PML-N lawmakers had earlier accused the PTI-led government of taking the decision to release Indian pilot Abhinandan under pressure.

“Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was present in the meeting, which Imran Khan had refused to attend,” Ayaz Sadiq had said in parliament on Wednesday, adding that Qureshi had "begged the Opposition to release Abhinandan or else India would attack Pakistan at 9:00pm".

“India never attacked Pakistan but the government nonetheless handed over Abhinandan to Indian authorities,” Sadiq had said.

Read more: Controversy over Abhinandan's release 'highly regrettable'

The comments had kicked off a furore in Indian media, as channel upon channel and publication upon publication seized on Sadiq's statement, misrepresented parts of it, and painted the picture that India had somehow prevailed over Pakistan in securing the downed pilot's release.

Reaction to Ayaz Sadiq's statement

The reaction that followed Sadiq's comments in Pakistan was swift.

Director-General of Inter-Services Public Relations Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar on Thursday said viewing the decision to release Abhinandan as anything other than "the mature response of a responsible state" is "highly regrettable".

A little while before the DG ISPR's press conference, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had said the former NA speaker's comments were "contrary to the truth" and regretted that "responsible people are making irresponsible statements".

“Highly irresponsible statements are being issued for political gains; responsible people are talking irresponsibly, which is surprising,” the foreign minister said. “These people are misleading the nation on the issues of Kulbhushan and Abhinandan.”

Ayaz Sadiq's clarification

In his defence, Sadiq lambasted the Indian media for "distorting" his comments. "One thing is clear: Abhinandan did not come to Pakistan to distribute sweets; he had attacked Pakistan," the PML-N leader said.

However, Sadiq, in a pointed attack directed at Prime Minister Imran Khan, also asked if the decision to release Abhinandan was made "on dictation" from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

‘Time for apology over’

On Friday, Shibli Faraz had hinted at legal action against the former National Assembly speaker for accusing the incumbent government of caving to Indian pressure.

"What Ayaz Sadiq said is not forgivable," he wrote in a tweet. "Now the law will take its course."

Faraz asserted that "weakening the state" is an "unpardonable offense", and promised that Sadiq and his followers would be punished for it.