Jinnah Avenue incident: SC serves notice on top officials
20 August, 2013
ISLAMABAD: Accepting a petition for regular hearing against the media/TV channels for telecasting the August 15 incident involving random shooting on Jinnah Avenue, the Supreme Court (SC) has directed the interior secretary, Islamabad IGP, PEMRA chairman, Islamabad chief commissioner and Islamabad district magistrate to submit para-wise comments on the issue on August 23.
A three-member bench of the court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, heard the petition filed by Advocate Tariq Asad on Monday. The court said that when district magistrate system was still active in Islamabad, why the magistrate did not come forward to settle the issue.
It also observed that it was very strange that the Islamabad district magistrate was missing in fulfilling his responsibility in the entire episode. Tariq Asad, criticising the role of media, alleged that the media has become a "mafia" in the country. Upon this, Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh stopped him by saying that whether he wanted to return to PTV era.
On the other hand, Justice Jawwad S Khawaja said that although selection of words was wrong, a fact was part of Tariq Asad's grievances.
He said that the court had always favoured freedom of expression but the media should realise its reasonability too. The chief justice also told the petitioner that his concerns related to the matter were "totally right".
Lamenting the role of media in the Islamabad episode, he said that 200 million people were engaged for more than three hours.
Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh said that despite watching the episode of Jinnah Avenue, people could have watched Turkish dramas on other TV channels.
The petitioner said that the administration had totally failed on August 15 and "therefore Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan should tender his resignation".
On the bench's query about his plea, Tariq Asad said that he wanted that a judicial commission should be constituted, comprising high-ranked retired military officers, to probe the August 15 incident and book those responsible. He also showed mistrust over investigation by the government in the matter.
The court, accepting his plea, directed all the respondents and district magistrate Islamabad to file para-wise comments regarding this petition and adjourned the hearing until August 23.
The petitioner said that on August 15 an armed person, Sikandar, accompanied by his wife and two children drove his car into the Jinnah Avenue area after crossing all police checkposts and started firing random shots in the air. He held the whole city hostage for more than five hours.
The petition also said that all TV channels continued telecasting the whole episode for over five hours without any break that spread "fear, harassment and suspense" in violation of Article 9 of the constitution. He stated that inefficiencies of the interior secretary, the inspector general and the PEMRA chairman had caused disgrace not only for law enforcement agencies but also for the state, particularly at a time when there were disturbances on the Indo-Pak border.
He said that an impression that Pakistan was incapable to control a man with two guns had raised questions about the country's internal security.