August 29, 2023
By Maryam Missal
Despite receiving bail from the Anti-Terrorism Court, human rights activist and lawyer Imaan Mazari was once again arrested by the Islamabad Capital Police (ICT) on charges of sedition and criminal intimidation, followed by a three-day physical remand by Anti-Terrorism Court, on Tuesday.
On Monday, Imaan Mazari and former South Waziristan MNA Ali Wazir were both granted bail in connection with a terrorism case that had been registered against them.
The duo’s release came after an anti-terrorism court in Islamabad accepted their bail applications against surety bonds of Rs30,000 each.
Earlier, a judicial magistrate had granted the lawyer post-arrest bail on August 22 in connection with the case registered at Tarnol Police Station, but she had not been released at the time as she was facing another case registered at (Counter Terrorism Department) CTD police station.
When Imaan Mazari walked out of Adiala Jail, ICT awaited the human rights advocate and arrested her under a fresh FIR booked in Police Station Bara Kahu, Islamabad.
At the time of arrest, a copy of the First Information Report (FIR) or arrest warrants was not presented to Mazari or her legal team, as confirmed by her lawyer Zainab Janjua.
Later on, the FIR was revealed, and the charges against Imaan and Wazir were lodged under Section 11-N of the Anti-Terrorism Act, along with sections 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).
The case originated from a complaint filed by a man named Shahzad from Nai Abadi Bhara Kahu. According to the FIR, Shahzad alleged that he was introduced to a self-proclaimed human rights activist named Kamran Khan, who sought his assistance in addressing human rights issues in the area.
This initial interaction eventually led to Shahzad’s engagement with Ali Wazir, Imaan, and several others.
The FIR detailed that the group aimed to hold rallies against government institutions, including the armed forces, under the pretext of advocating for human rights.
The FIR also stated that donations, both in cash and through digital means, were collected to fund these activities. Allegedly, the group encouraged young individuals to contribute funds to build an anti-state narrative.
Critics of the charges argued that the accusations were an attempt to suppress the activists’ efforts to highlight human rights violations and marginalized voices. They speculated that the charges might be politically motivated, to discredit their work and advocacy.
Advocate Hassan Raza Pasha, a member of the Pakistan Bar Council, spoke to Voicepk.net and said Wazir has been a true politician who has never relied on militancy to fight his battles.
“He is not a militant, he does not rely on militancy to fight for him, he hasn’t been involved in any acts of terrorism.”
On the other hand, Pasha believed that everyone has a right to express themselves but should have their emotions in check while commenting on authorities.
“They should have tried them under civilian courts but trying them under ATC is a stretch.”, spoke Pasha referring to Mazari and Wazir’s trial under CTD.
The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) has also condemned the arrest of Imaan Mazari, stating such arrests are in flagrant violation of the constitution’s fundamental rights.
Muqtadir Akhtar Shabbir, Secretary of the SCBA, stated that the bar supports the rule of law, the supremacy of the constitution, and the independence of the institutions.
He remarked that the arrest of Imaan Mazari caused “grave concern” to the group. Such arrests, he claims, are not only an obvious violation of the rule of law and the concepts of fairness and justice but also directly contradict the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution.
Meanwhile, others also spoke up for the severe violation of human rights.
Former Senator Afrasiyab Khattak said that Mazari was jailed for her work for human rights rather than any terrorist activity.
“They are arresting those who have spoken out against terrorism and they are now facing terrorism charges.”
According to Khattak, Ali Wazir has suffered the effects of terrorism in Pakistan and has the right to criticize the state. He is a member of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), which according to him has always been a nonviolent movement.
If anyone had a problem with Mazari and Wazir’s statements, they should have filed defamation charges against them, according to Khattak, because trying them in terrorist courts was unconstitutional and illegal.
Khattak went on to challenge the state’s own morality when it came to terrorism, citing negotiations with the extremist party Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan and the state’s rehabilitation facilities for Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.
Activist turned politician Ammar Ali Jan spoke to Voicepk.net on the matter of Imaan’s rearrest and said the law (of the land) was ‘fascistic’.
“They want to rule by power and fear and it will not work in their favour”
According to Ammar Jan, the current governing bodies in Pakistan have distanced themselves from the grievances and pains of the common man which may lead civil society to turn against them.