Thursday, January 26, 2023
Web Desk

Senior politicians deplore sedition charge against Fawad Chaudhry

HRCP also condemns case filed against PTI leader, terms it "archaic"

Web Desk
(L to R) Senior PML-N leader Musadik Malik, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry, and former chairman Senate Raza Rabbani. — AFP/File
(L to R) Senior PML-N leader Musadik Malik, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry, and former chairman Senate Raza Rabbani. — AFP/File

  • Politicians want sedition charge against Fawad dropped.
  • HRCP terms sedition law "archaic and colonial".
  • Fawad was arrested for "threatening" ECP members.

Senior politicians and a human rights organisation have deplored the sedition charge levelled against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry and demanded that "they must be dropped immediately.

Mian Raza Rabbani, former chairman Senate and a leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), said that Fawad's arrest under Pakistan Penal Code's Section 124-A "is unwarranted".

In a statement, he stated that his Private Members Bill for deletion of section 124-A was passed by the Senate on July 9, 2021, but the bill was deliberately "lost" in the National Assembly (NA).

"It is a matter of history that charges of treason and sedition are only levelled and levied against politicians and civilians," the former Senate chairman noted. 

"It is a matter of fact that the Lahore High Court quashed the proceedings of the Special Court in the matter of high treason charges under Article 6, Constitution, 1973, against Parvez Musharaf."

He also advised the government to "refrain from prosecuting under such sections." The government should also, on its own motion, give notice of "my bill for the deletion of section 124-A, which is lying dormant in the National Assembly", he said.

In a press conference in Islamabad, Minister of State for Petroleum Division Musadik Malik said that if the PTI leader is sentenced in the case, it should be based on "evidence".

He also called on the authorities that they should take action against people in line with the law.

“Action should be taken against those who violate the law. Fawad Chaudhry is my friend. I didn’t file the case against him. The case was filed by the ECP." 

"I do not consider it appropriate to lodge cases of treason against politicians. If they carry out treason, they would be treated as per the law," he added.

Another senior PPP leader, Farhatullah Babar, also lamented over the case against Fawad and said: "Application of this law against anyone cannot be condoned."

In a tweet, the PPP leader said: "The PPP is, in principle, opposed to colonial-era sedition law 124-A & demanded its repeal in the parliament. Application of this law against anyone cannot be condoned."

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) also condemned the charge against Fawad and termed them archaic and colonial laws that the governments use to punish the politicians who criticise their policies.

Taking to Twitter, HRCP said: "HRCP deplores the continuous use of archaic, colonial laws against sedition by successive governments against their political opponents."

"Fawad Chaudhry is the latest in the series. The charges must be dropped immediately and the government of the day must act more responsibly," the HRCP wrote.

Fawad, a former federal minister, was arrested from his Lahore residence in the wee hours of Wednesday after he publicly "threatened" the members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and their families in a media talk a day earlier.

He was then taken to Islamabad, where the capital's police were granted a two-day remand of the PTI leader in the sedition case. His arrest drew strong criticism within the federal government's ranks — which, although, has denied involvement.

President Dr Arif Alvi had also deplored the arrest and the manner in which Fawad was presented in the Islamabad court and asked the officials to "have some shame" as they covered his head with a white sheet and also handcuffed him.