16 November 2022
On the International Day of Tolerance, Voicepk.net takes a look at the curious stream of sedition cases against Ali Wazir that have kept the elected MNA from South Waziristan behind bars for close to two years.
Wazir is an independently-elected member of the National Assembly from South Waziristan, who was arrested in December 2020 and moved to Karachi to face charges in connection with four cases of sedition registered against him in three police stations there.
The cases were based on speeches made by Ali Wazir allegedly against state institutions during the public meetings of the Pakshtun Tuhaffaz Movement (PTM) while he was staying in Karachi.
“Two cases were registered with the Sohrab Goth police stations while two separate cases were filed with Boat Basin and Shah Latif police stations,” Qadir Khan, the lawyer for Ali Wazir, told Voicepk.net.
After a year of his incarceration in Karachi jail, the Supreme Court granted him bail in the case registered with Sohrab Goth Police Station in November 2021. It took over six months more for Ali Wazir to secure bail from the Sindh High Court in the case registered with Sohrab Goth police station.
After bail from the high court, Karachi police booked him a third time in a case lodged with the Shah Latif Town police station against PTM leaders once again over alleged hate speech against state institutions. After the trial court granted bail to Ali Wazir in the third case, the police filed a challan against him in a fourth case registered with the Boat Basin Police in May 2018. In September, an anti-terrorism court (ATC) judge granted post-arrest bail to Ali Wazir in the Boat Basin case.
The cases were not stopped there. In October, an anti-terrorism court judge acquitted the MNA in the sedition case registered with Sohrab Goth police station after the prosecution failed to prove the charges against him.
Following the acquittal and bail in four cases, police posted his arrest in a fifth case on the charges of delivering a hate speech during a public meeting in Miramshah town of the North Waziristan district. The Peshawar High Court’s Bannu Bench granted bail to MNA from South Waziristan Ali Wazir in the Miranshah case on November 14.
Each time Ali Wazir secured bail in a case in which he has been arrested, the police would request for his arrest in a new case with similar charges, says Qadir Khan. “He was brought to Karachi from Peshawar in the case registered with Sohrab Goth police station and after seven to eight months he was yet again arrested in another case,” explains Khan, along with the chronology of the sedition cases that appeared overnight whenever Ali Wazir inched near his release from jail.
“Three months later after the second, police revealed the third case in which his arrest was sought,” he says, adding that the police slapped charges in the fourth case with a gap of another three months. In addition, the police also showed his production order in the fifth case registered with the Miranshah police station. “We have already secured bail in three cases while Ali Wazir was acquitted in the fourth case,” he adds.
“As the Bannu bench granted bail to Ali Wazir in the Miranshah case, police showed the court that he was wanted in connection with a sixth case registered with Dera Ismail Khan police,” Qadir Khan tells Voicepk.net. Surprisingly, PTM chief Manzoor Pashteen was arrested and later acquitted in Dera Ismail Khan case.
The dejected lawyer believes that the government and state institutions do not intend to release the incarcerated MNA despite spending two years behind bars. “The cases are being made public systematically from cities in which Ali Wazir has made speeches,” he notes. “Now, we are trying to secure bail in the sixth case and Allah knows better how many cases are there,” he adds.
In a tweet, PTM chief Manzoor Pashteen lambasted Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif over Ali Wazir’s continued incarceration, accusing him of failing to uphold fundamental rights, the Constitution, and the electoral mandate which the prime minister vouched for when he was in opposition. In a separate tweet, fellow MNA from Waziristan Mohsin Dawar said the Miranshah case against Ali Wazir was being used as an excuse to continue to keep him in jail. He hoped that Ali Wazir would be released finally after the high court granted him bail in the case.
IMPRISONED YET RESILIENT
Despite his long imprisonment, Wazir has stated that it had failed to dent his spirit in the least. “A person becomes weak if he believes in a weak ideology, I am proud to say that our idealogy believes in humanity,” he told Voicepk.net in an exclusive interview during his appearance in court in September. While the Sindh government is not the complainant in the slew of sedition cases against him, when asked about who was behind these cases, Ali Wazir replied: “It is all out in the open now, state institutions are now publicly showing their interference in matters relating to the political and military affairs in the country.”
The lower house parliamentarian affiliated with Pashtun Tuhaffaz Movement (PTM) said the establishment’ was calling out PTI in a similar fashion to people it viewed as anti-state.
Ironically PTI leaders Shahbaz Gill and Azam Swati were also arrested in cases with sedition offences yet were released on bail without any more new cases against them over their speech and tweets. Earlier, PML-N leader Javed Latif was also put behind bars in a case registered against him on charges of inciting people against state institutions. He was granted bail after a month and a half by an anti-terrorism court in Lahore.
ALL EYES TOWARDS PARLIAMENT
For now, Ali Wazir’s chances of release rest on the bill on ‘The Members of Parliament Privileges and Immunities Act 2022’ that the Senate Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs passed to protect parliamentarians from arrests or detentions after a session of both houses is summoned. The bill also makes the issuance of the production order of the arrested member mandatory for National Assembly or Senate sessions, as well as meetings of the house committees.
Speaking in Munizae Jahangir’s show Spotlight, on November 15, 2022, Senator Taj Haider, head of the Senate Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs, said he was trying to expedite passage of the bill in the Senate after which the legislation would move to the lower house for its adoption. However, fellow panellist PTI MNA Lal Chand Malhi criticised the Pakistan Democratic Movement coalition government for not regularly issuing production orders of Ali Wazir for the National Assembly session. He said the prime minister was helpless before those wielding real power in the country. The PTM has also expressed its disappointment with mainstream democratic parties siding with the establishment over the incarceration of Ali Wazir affiliated with the movement.