Prime Minister Imran Khan supposedly wants his political arch-rival Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the chief of his eponymous faction of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, to be tried for treason under Article 6 of the Constitution for his attempts to overthrow the government.
The JUI-F chief had launched the ‘Azadi March’ in October last year to dislodge the government and force the prime minister to resign. The protest movement quickly fizzled out after several opposition parties backed out and the JUI-F was compelled to call off the sit-in in Islamabad. The nationwide protests also come to an abrupt as the JUI-F chief’s political future was cast into further doubt.
The JUI-F chief has now revealed that he called off the protest after receiving assurances that Prime Minister Imran Khan would resign and new elections will be held. The cleric also took responsibility for the rift that has emerged between the PTI and its allies. He certainly wants to make a political comeback and has announced to launch the third phase of the anti-government protest.
The prime minister wants to know who gave Maulana Rehman such assurances. He said there should be a fair investigation on who gave such assurances about the downfall of the government. He wants the JUI-F to be held responsible for admitting to conspiring against the government. It is known that PML-Q leader Pervaiz Elahi was responsible for the negotiations with the JUI-F chief and should be asked whether he was the one who gave such assurances.
That being set aside, Pakistan has a long history of declaring its dissidents and political opponents as traitors threatening with treason cases. A wide number of prominent political personalities notably GM Syed, Bacha Khan, Wali Khan, Ghous Baksh Bizenjo, Z.A. Bhutto, Nusrat Bhutto, Akbar Bugti have been labeled as traitors for their opposing views but were never convicted. The only time a treason conviction was given was to former president General Musharraf recently but the verdict was mired in controversy and the court was dismantled.
It is the democratic tradition that different points of view should be accepted. A treason case against the JUI-F would reopen a new Pandora box which would be difficult to contain. The JUI-F wants to stay politically relevant and would use any means necessary to regain power. He has leveled serious allegations against Imran Khan just to bring him down but has remained unsuccessful.
The prime minister should not seek political retribution. He should remember about his own sit-in which sought to bring down the Nawaz Sharif’s government. Dissent should be tolerated in a democratic society and peaceful protest is a basic right. More importantly, the trend of issues treason decrees should be stopped once and for all.