December 1st, 2020 

By Hamid Riaz 


The Lahore High Court on Tuesday stopped the Punjab government from arresting political activist Ammar Ali Jan over a detention order issued by the Lahore deputy commissioner and sought a reply from the government till the next date of hearing on December 17.

Chief Justice Qasim Ali Khan of Lahore High Court was hearing a petition filed by Hina Jilani, HRCP chairperson, Abid Saqi, vice chairman of Pakistan Bar Council, and Barrister Salman Akram Raja against Jan’s detention order. On November 26, the deputy commissioner had issued a 30-day detention order of Jan citing that he posed a threat to public peace, law and order situation in the city.  Jan had evaded arrest on Friday after police tried to arrest him at the Liberty Roundabout after he had left the Students Solidarity March that had been held at Charing Cross (Punjab Assembly), Lahore.

Agreeing with the arguments of the petitioners, the chief justice remarked that the charges against Jan were based on conjectures and there had been no valid reason for his arrest. The court also issued notices to the Punjab government and other respondents, directing them to submit a reply by December 17.

Speaking to, Ammar Ali Jan hailed the court’s decision against his arrest saying it was a setback for the present government as they crackdown on political activists, farmers, and trade unionists. He said the court has clearly stated that detention orders are unconstitutional and against civil liberties, adding that the detention orders were illegal in light of Supreme Court judgments. He said the present government was using force against peaceful and powerless entities like students, farmers, and trade unionists. He said the resistance movements were getting more organized with the passage of time.

Salman Akram Raja said that the detention order was issued under a law of the British Raj and had been used to arrest dissenting political activists under the country’s military regimes.

Haider Butt, who was with Ammar when the police tried to arrest them, said that police officials had misbehaved and manhandled them. However, he said they were able to resist the police officials from arresting Ammar Ali Jan.

Tabitha Spence, Ammar Ali Jan’s spouse, said that despite many opportunities abroad, her husband, a graduate of Cambridge University, chose to stay in his homeland to fight for the rights of the people. She said the treatment meted out to Ammar was unfortunate and tantamount to injustice by the State.

A large number of students and activists were also present outside the court to show their solidarity with Ammar Ali Jan. Muzammil Kakar, coordinator of the management committee of the Students Solidarity March, said the authorities had also filed cases against the organizers of the Student March last year, adding that one of the organizers, Alamgir Wazir, was kept in prison for months.