April 15, 2022 – The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has ordered the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to stop harassing workers and activists belonging to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PT1), local news outlets have reported.
IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah on Thursday, April 14, presided over the hearing of a petition, filed by PTI’s Ali Nawaz Awan, challenging the recent crackdown on the party’s activists. The court was requested to bar the FIA from harassing PTI workers and violating the privacy of their families through illegal raids at their residences.
The court ordered FIA’s director-general to ensure compliance with standard operating procedures and that PTI workers are not “illegally harassed”.
PTI leader Asad Umar, who was the first from the party to confirm the arrests, congratulated the PTI followers on IHC’s orders to the FIA on Twitter.
تمام سوشل میڈیا پر حق اور سچ کی بات کرنے والوں کو تحریک انصاف کی پٹیشن پر اسلام آباد ہائی کورٹ کے اس فیصلے پر مبارکباد. https://t.co/dLEJNxX19F
— Asad Umar (@Asad_Umar) April 14, 2022
Earlier this week, the FIA conducted raids and detained several men from Lahore, Faisalabad, Multan, Islamabad and Karachi. A suspect taken in from Sabzazar Multan Road in Lahore was said to be running a vilification drive online against Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa. He was booked under Section 505 of the Pakistan Penal Code pertaining to “public mischief”, and was later remanded into physical custody of the FIA for two days by the court.
The arrests were made in the wake of persistent social media trends that targeted the Pakistan Army, Supreme Court, and coalition of opposition parties that ousted PTI Chief Imran Khan from the Prime Minister’s Office through a no-confidence vote held on April 10.
Hashtags centred on Imran Khan’s highly publicised “imported government” narrative have been circulated millions of times on Twitter since his ouster. Newly elected Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif from Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) also finds himself at the centre of controversial trends calling for his removal and “rejecting” him as the premier.