On March 28, 2012, lawyer Ahmed Raza Kasuri filed a petition for high treason (under Article 6, punishable by death) on behalf of the so-called ‘security and defence analyst’ Zaid Zaman Hamid in the Supreme Court of Pakistan, Islamabad, against 17 respondents whom the petition terms ‘snakes’. Their alleged crimes include “Trying to project Quaid-e-Azam as secular leader, lowering the image of Allama Iqbal, aggressively attacking the image of armed forces and ISI”.
The respondents include journalists Najam Sethi, Marvi Sirmed, Nusrat Javeed, Sirmed Manzoor, Ali K. Chishti, Khaled Ahmed, Imtiaz Alam, Hamid Mir, Hasan Nisar, and myself, besides the prominent human rights advocate and former President of the Supreme Court Bar Association Asma Jahangir. The DG ISI, Ministry of Interior, Foreign Ministry, Chairman PEMRA, Law Ministry and of course the biggest ‘snake’, SAFMA (South Asia Free Media Association), were also made respondents.
As analyst Omar Ali put it: Zaid Hamid, “a clown promoted by the security establishment (and very popular among the burger jihadi crowd…), or at least, by the jihadi faction of the security establishment for years, has now filed a petition in the Supreme court of Pakistan to bring anti-Islam and ante-Pakistan forces to heel” (See blog post Zaid Hamid files a petition, or Islam and Pakistan in danger)
The petition was preceded by a facebook post (repeated on twitter) on the Zaid Hamid official page.
“Today, we have filed a Petition in the Supreme Court against SAFMA for High Treason against Pak Sarzameen, its sacred ideology, its beloved founding fathers and waging a war against Pak Sarzameen, armed forces and our freedom on behalf of the enemies.
“We have demanded Death Panelty under article 6 High Treason law for All SAFMA leaders, members and supporters like Imtiaz Alam, Marvi Sermed, Najam Sethi, Hamid Mir, Asma Jahangir, Hasan Nisar, Khaled Ahmed, Beena Aarwar, Nusrat Javed and Ali Chishti! Now these snakes will be dragged to the court and confronted with their crimes against Pak Sarzameen InshAllah….”
It continues along these lines – and he subsequently complained that “Pakistani media is blocking the news of our war against SAFMA. The snakes have joined hands to protect their their system of lies, deceptions and deceit…” - the post at his facebook page has a poster and quote of Malcolm X about the media to illustrate the point (!!).
We do not yet know whether the SC will admit the petition in the first place. The text is actually quite funny, replete with typos, and the so called PakNationalists (known on twitter as #fakenationalists) are clearly desperate.
But whether SC admits it or not, the fb and twitter posts, and the language of the petition itself, are inflammatory and inciting people against the individuals named and what they stand for – a progressive, democratic Pakistan — which is at odds with the ‘ideology of Pakistan’ promoted by the security establishment all these years. As the Indian journalist Sadanand Dhume said on twitter: “If calling journalists snakes and publicly demanding their execution for treason isn’t incitement to violence, then what is?”
“Every citizen has the right to approach the court no matter how ridiculous the petition,” points out advocate Osama Siddique. “It is the court’s responsibility to throw the ridiculous ones out.”
Even if the case is not dismissed in limine it is unlikely to progress much. And if it does we will fight it inside and outside the court. More later.