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Pakistan top judge asks officials to explain use of force against media

BBC Monitoring

Text of report by Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) news agency

Islamabad, 30 September: Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Sunday [30 September] took suo motu notice [of his own will] of the incident of the use of force and thrashing of lawyers and media persons by the police and law enforcing agencies in front of the Supreme Court and Election Commission of Pakistan.

The chief justice has directed to place the matter before the court on 1 October and issue notices to Secretary Interior, Government of Pakistan, Chief Commissioner, Inspector General of Police, Deputy Commissioner/Duty Magistrate and Senior Superintendent of Police, Islamabad to appear and explain their positions.

The Chief Commissioner and Inspector General of Police, Islamabad have been directed to produce security plan as well as any order, if received by them from the Interior Division to control the law and order situation on 29 September .

They are directed to also submit daily situation report, submi! tted to high-ups as well as the copies of the FIRs [First Information Report], if registered, along with details of the accused persons with precis of the evidence, if collected, against them.

Representatives of private TV Channels i.e. GEO, ARY and AAJ, are to produce films/CDs, if prepared, of the incident which has been reported herein above.

The Information Ministry is to issue notices, through electronic media at the cost of the Ministry of Information to lawyers' community, media persons and the members of civil society to appear and furnish evidence, if they have any, through affidavits, in this behalf.

Medical Superintendent of the Federal Government Services Hospital, Islamabad and Executive Director, PIMS to furnish the list of the patients including lawyers, media persons, members of the civil society as well as the members of police/law enforcing agencies, to whom treatment has been provided in the hospital.

The suo motu has been taken on a note of Registrar of Supreme Court. The registrar noted that lawyers had gathered on the Constitution Avenue as well as inside the premises of the Supreme Court building, with intent to lodge a protest before Election Commission of Pakistan.

Serious clashes took place with police contingent/law enforcing agencies, present outside the public gate of the Supreme Court building. The police chased them into the Supreme Court building. The SSP (Islamabad) on duty was asked to withdraw his force from close proximity of the Court building. They moved back and took position near the Federal Shariat Court building, in front of the Supreme Court building.

The registrar noted that it has been widely reported in the press that media persons were also beaten up by the police/law enforcing agencies in front of the office of Election Commission of Pakistan. There are also reports that Minister of Stat! e for Information Tariq Azeem was also manhandled in front of the office of Election Commission of Pakistan. Similarly, Farooq Sattar MNA [Member of National Assembly] met with the same treatment in front of Federal Government Services Hospital, Islamabad.

He added, when the lawyers kept agitating and raising slogans, the response from the police was robust/highly excessive.

They out-numbered the agitating lawyers. Besides uniformed police, many were in civil dress and missed no opportunity to thrash the agitating lawyers.

In this process, several lawyers received injuries and were brought into court dispensary for first-aid/medical treatment.

Some 10-15 more persons from amongst lawyers/civil society were also given medical aid, whose names could not be recorded due to heavy rush of injured persons and their attendants.

After first-aid, some were discharged whereas others were shifted for further diagnose! s/treatment to Federal Government Services Hospital.

Source: Associated Press of Pakistan news agency, Islamabad, in English 1740gmt 30 Sep 07



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