The Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) leader and MNA Ali Wazir have been granted bail by the Supreme Court. The bail was granted on Tuesday in a case related to making incendiary remarks against state institutions.
A three-judge bench, headed by Justice Sardar Tariq Masood and comprising Justice Jamal Mandokhail and Justice Aminuddin Khan heard Wazir’s appeal against the Sindh High Court’s (SHC) judgment that had dismissed his bail application. The apex court set bail at Rs400,000.
The court noted that the other individual accused in the hate speech case had been granted bail, which was not challenged, so Wazir could not be kept in jail either.
However, the lawmaker, may not be released immediately because there are other cases pending against him in which bail has not been granted.
Justice Masood during the hearing observed that the state was releasing other people after negotiations, he did not name who he was referring to.
The judge said, “It is possible that matters are settled with Ali Wazir someday as well”. He added that people were being martyred. The judge inquired, “Do legal provisions not apply there? Is the court here just to reject bails?”
Justice Masood said that the court canceled the bails only so the government could sign agreements with them later while referring to the recent protests by the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan and its agreement with the government.
Justice Jamal Mandokhail also inquired, “Ali Wazir had complained that his grievances should have been addressed. Why are our own [people] being turned into strangers instead of being accepted?”
He inquired what will happen if “even one of Wazir’s allegations” turned out to be true.
Justice Mandokhail commented that taking into consideration the treatment meted out to the other accused in the case, it seemed to be a case of “good Taliban [and] bad Taliban” — a euphemism to describe different treatments meted out to similar people.
Justice Masood inquired why Wazir had been charged under the anti-terror laws, when it appeared that the charge wasn’t merited in his case.
Wazir’s legal counsel, Latif Afridi, argued that he had only made complaints in his speech. He questioned, “How did a Sindhi police officer register a case against Ali Wazir’s speech in Pashto?”
Justice Aminuddin Khan noted it was obvious from the record that the case was registered after a translation.
The prosecutor general of Sindh said that there were similar cases against the MNA as well to which Justice Masood responded by asking whether Wazir had been granted bail in other cases. The prosecutor general responded that Wazir had not been granted bail in any other case.
The arrest of MNA Wazir was carried out on charges of making insulting and incendiary speeches against state institutions at a PTM protest rally in Karachi on December 6, 2020. The next day, a first information report (FIR) was lodged against him at Karachi’s Sohrab Goth police station.
The interned PTM lawmaker’s counsel, approached the SHC for bail following an anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Karachi dismissing a similar application in February. The high court had also denied his bail request.
He moved to plead before the apex court to set aside the high court order since it was not sustainable under the law and facts. The appeal further stated that Wazir was innocent and did not commit the offense under which he was arrested.
Furthermore, the petition argued that the SHC and the ATC had been unable to take into consideration that witnesses named in the FIR challan were not independent witnesses but police personnel.
The petition regretted that no independent witness was cited against the appellant from the area where the public meeting was held. Therefore, a National Assembly member — who was himself struggling for the supremacy of parliament and the rule of law, the Constitution, and for the democratic and human rights of the citizens — had been implicated in a false case.
The petition noted that there is no criminal history or any other pending cases against the appellant, and inquired if there was any independent evidence, direct or indirect, to connect Wazir with offenses like criminal conspiracy, waging war against the state, assaulting the president, and governor, promoting enmity between different groups, disobeying law and order, and circulating rumors to cause a mutiny.
The appeal argued that Wazir was arrested and implicated in the case owing to political rivalry with the ruling party.
The appeal also probed whether the appellant was arrested according to the norm and if the FIR was lodged against him after seeking approval from the National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser.
As per the appeal, the SHC had failed to appreciate that the appellant was entitled to bail since no independent witness was ever produced against him during the trial.