LHC Demands Affidavit to Prevent Future Altaf Hussain Anti-Pakistan Statments
A Lahore High Court full bench on Friday asked the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) to file an affidavit on behalf of its chief Altaf Hussain stating that in future he would be careful about not issuing statements against the integrity of the country.
The bench suggested that the party could add to the affidavit excerpts from Hussain’s later speeches where he had apologised for his remarks. The suggestion followed MQM leader Farooq Sattar’s submission that Hussain had withdrawn the objectionable statements and issued an apology for the purpose. Sattar told the court that he would discuss the matter with the party’s coordination committee and proceed accordingly.
The bench observed that a ban on media coverage of Hussain’s speeches would be withdrawn when the affidavit was received by the court. The hearing was adjourned till October 2.
On August 31, the bench had directed the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to ban media coverage of Hussain’s speeches.
The MQM had challenged the ban through its counsel Asma Jahangir and Khalid Ranjah.
On Friday, Jahangir submitted that the ban was in violation of the fundamental rights granted under the article 19-A of the Constitution. She said it was unjustified and should immediately be revoked. Justice Mazahar Ali Naqvi responded that the right to access information granted under Article 19-A was subject to regulation and reasonable restrictions imposed by the law. He said the exercise of the right could not be absolute. He said as an institution of the state established under the constitution, the military deserved respect. The judge said he had no personal grudge against the MQM and he wanted to dispel the impression that the decision was against the party. He said he had not issued any notice to the party’s coordination committee.
Jahangir said various politicians had given statements that could be considered anti-state. However, no one had been banned for delivering such speeches. She cautioned the bench that it could fall victim to its own order. At this, the judge said there was nothing illegal in the order. On similar statements issued by other politicians, he said if anyone had reservations about them they could approach the court for the purpose.
Earlier, Abullah Malik, the petitioner who had sought a ban on media coverage of Hussain’s speeches, apologised to Jahangir on court directives for his allegation against her. Malik had accused Jahangir of receiving funding from the United States and said that he represented the civil society which did not received assistance from the US. He was responding to Jahangir’s comment about his (self) identification with the civil society.
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