June 1st, 2021
By Hamid Riaz
On Tuesday, June 1, the Sindh High Court (SHC) finally announced its much delayed verdict regarding the bail application of Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) leader and Member of the National Assembly (MNA) Ali Wazir. Originally reserved on March 5, the high court summarily rejected Wazir’s bail plea.
Prominent social and political figures, including his fellow PTM associate MNA Moshin Dawar, have condemned the cancellation of his bail and have termed the charges against him “baseless”.
Wazir was arrested on charges of conspiracy and spreading enmity between different segments of society, amongst others, after a first information report (FIR) was lodged against him in the Sohrab Goth Police Station in Karachi on December 6, 2020, following a speech he delivered at a PTM protest rally in the area.
Ali Wazir was arrested along with 12 other rank and file members of the PTM. Soon after the arrests, the sitting MNA and co-accused were presented in an anti-terrorism court (ATC) for a bail hearing – the judge accepted the bail pleas of the 12 co-accused but rejected Wazir’s petition.
Following the denial of bail by the trial court, Wazir’s legal team approached the SHC to secure his bail in mid-February. According to the MNA’S legal counsel, the SHC reserved a verdict on the bail petition on March 5 but it was not announced until today.
“The court gave us no technical or legal explanation as to why it took them such a long time to announce a reserved verdict. Normally, bail petitions do not linger on for so long,” explains advocate Abdul Qadir, lawyer for Ali Wazir. “In my personal opinion, the judgment was held in order to cause a delay in the legal process, hence prolonging Ali Wazir’s incarceration. If the court had given us the verdict when it had reserved the judgment, we would have approached the Supreme Court (SC) by now. The legal process would have progressed… but instead, they wasted months of Ali Wazir’s life by unnecessarily prolonging his incarceration..During his speech at the [Sohrab Goth] jalsa, Ali Wazir had recited a Pashtu folk song (tappa) which included a phrase translating, ‘Mother, bring me my gun… the Punjabis are coming’,” Qadir revealed.
Qadir added that the sentence had been purposely misconstrued.
“The court explicitly jotted down this sentence in their verdict, making it the basis and justification for his prolonged arrest and the rejection of his bail plea. But I think that the sentence was taken out of context. The tappa under question does not point toward the Pashtuns and Punjabis of today, but instead is a reference to the times when the Pashtuns of the Subcontinent were battling the invasion of the Sikh empire. So, in my personal opinion it is not justified to hold an MNA for such a long time especially over a sentence which is being taken out of context,” he added.
Regarding the future course of action, Abdul Qadir says that in his legal opinion the next logical step is to approach the SC in this matter after consultation with his client. Qadir explains that despite months of incarceration, Ali Wazir remains in high spirits and also physically healthy because “He knows who is playing these games and to what effect.”
It is pertinent to mention here that on May 25, President of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) Latif Afridi wrote a letter to the SHC asking the honorable court to expedite the decision of Ali Wazir’s bail application, intimating that “If a reserved judgment is not announced within three months, it will be reheard.”
Today’s judgment has arrived just days before the expiration of the stipulated three months.