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Islamabad court throws out Azam Swati’s bail plea in controversial tweets case

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  • Court says senator committed “same offence” for second time.
  • Judge had reserved verdict after hearing arguments in case.
  • Senator was booked by FIA for using abusive language on November 27.

ISLAMABAD: An Islamabad court on Wednesday rejected the bail plea of Senator Azam Swati’s in the controversial tweets case against him, saying the “same offence” has been committed twice.

The verdict was issued by Islamabad Special Judge Central Azam Khan. He had reserved the judgement earlier today. 

During the hearing, prosecutor Rizwan Abbasi explained the court the process of verifying a Twitter account. He added that Swati has a “blue tick” on his Twitter account and is followed by famous personalities.

“Famous journalists and political personalities follow Azam Swati,” said the lawyer. He added that the senator has never distanced himself from the account.

“There is no question that the Twitter account is not of Azam Swati,” said Abbasi.

While concluding his arguments the prosecutor and government lawyer urged the court not to grant bail to the senator in the case.

On the other hand, the PTI senator’s lawyer, Sohail Khan, contended that a cybercrime case cannot be registered over screenshots.

The judge after hearing the arguments reserved the verdict and said that it would be issued in 20 minutes. 

Controversial tweets cases

Swati is booked in multiple cases across the country for his controversial tweets against senior military officers. 

Initially, the senator was arrested by the Federal Investigation Authority (FIA), on October 14, after he posted a highly-hateful and threatening message against the army chief, judiciary and other state institutions, on his official Twitter account.

The senator had secured bail in that case. But on November 27, FIA once again arrested Swati for using abusive language against the top military brass, including the former army chief.

The senator was booked in multiple cases across the country related to those tweets. 

On December 2, Balochistan police arrested Swati for a similar case registered against him in Quetta.

At the time of his arrest, he was already on judicial remand in Adiala Jail and was shifted to Quetta under a transit remand acquired by the Balochistan police.

Later, Balochistan High Court (BHC) ordered the quashing of all cases registered against the senator in the case. 

Once, BHC issued the order the Sindh Police took the senator into its custody over the case. 

The senator then approached the Sindh High Court. The court also directed the quashing of all cases against senator in the province after the police said that the cases have been labelled as “C class”. 

Following the orders, Islamabad Police took the senator into his custody and brought him to the federal capital. 

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PTI received unwelcome respite, according to Rana Sanaullah

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In the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) reserved seat dispute, the government would respect the majority ruling of the Supreme Court, according to PMLN senior leader and advisor on political affairs Rana Sanaullah Khan.

He stated that after examining the decision, the government’s legal team would react appropriately. According to Rana Sanaullah, the legal team would determine whether or not to submit a review petition.

“SIC petitions were rejected but PTI was given that relief which was neither asked in the petition nor contest during the proceeding,” asserted Rana Sanaullah in response to the ruling.

He argued that because parties established administrations with a simple majority, the PMLN-led unity movement did not have a two-thirds majority.

According to Rana Sanaullah, PTI should challenge election tribunal rulings, with the government carrying out the rulings.

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The membership of Sher Afzal Marwat has been suspended by PTI.

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According to sources, PTI officials convened with imprisoned party founder Imran Khan on Thursday to make a decision over Marwat.

The party authorities alleged that Sher Afzal Marwat had been consistently breaching party discipline over the past month.

“In the meeting with Imran Khan, it was mutually agreed that no leader holds a superior position within the party, and any other leaders who deviate from the party’s stance will face similar consequences,” they stated.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has recently issued a show-cause notice to Sher Afzal Marwat due to his irresponsible utterances.

The notice, issued by PTI Secretary General Omar Ayub Khan, requires Marwat to provide an explanation for his utterances within a three-day period. These statements have been considered harmful to the party’s reputation.

The notification declares that making such utterances goes against the party’s code of conduct and contravenes the explicit directives of the party’s founder, Imran Khan, who has underscored the significance of accountable conduct.

Marwat was cautioned that if they fail to react or offer a satisfactory explanation, it could result in additional disciplinary measures.

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Supporting phone tapping for “national security,” Khawaja Asif

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In the continuous fight against terrorism, Defense Minister Khawaja Asif has stated that he is a strong supporter of security agencies’ phone tapping practices.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, particularly party head Omer Ayub, criticized and engaged in contentious arguments following Asif’s statements.

The significance of phone tapping for national security was emphasized by Khawaja Asif in an interview with a foreign media source. “Terrorism is the enemy that we fight. Given the circumstances, I will be in favor of phone tapping,” he said.

Noting that the phone tapping matter is presently being handled through the legal system, he further urged that everyone support the measure. “Phone tapping is necessary for national security,” he asserted.

By highlighting the PTI’s erratic position on the issue, the defense minister also rejected the party’s concerns as hypocritical.

Every action, whether legal and illegal, seemed acceptable to Imran Khan, the founder of the Pakistan Taliban, when he was on good terms with the authorities.” Asif said, “The same thing is hateful to his followers today.”

In order to prevent terrorism and protect national security, Asif emphasized the importance of phone tapping. Under the present conditions, I will be in favor of phone tapping. The fight against terrorism required it, he declared. In these difficult circumstances, he also urged detractors to think about the wider effects of security precautions.

After former prime minister Imran Khan complained about his phone being tapped, Asif hinted that the PTI’s present protests are politically motivated by pointing to earlier instances in which they had a positive relationship with the establishment.

For the purpose of maintaining national security and preventing any criminal activity, the central government granted Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the nation’s premier spy agency, permission to tap phones on July 8. A notification stating that Section 54 of the Pakistan Telecommunication Act 1996 permits ISI to record phone calls has been issued. Anything that falls under the notification category can be recorded by it.

The notice included a call recording feature in addition to the ability to track messages and calls. Subject to the prime minister’s approval, ISI personnel ranked 18th or higher are granted this authority. It will be feasible to record WhatsApp calls, SMS, and other applications in addition to cell calls, the release states.

Notably, on June 30, Justice Babar Sattar of the Islamabad High Court said that it is legally unlawful to monitor civilians in any way in the case of the audio leaks involving the son of former chief justice Saqib Nisar and Bushra Bibi. According to his ruling, the prime minister and the cabinet bear both collective and individual responsibility for the widespread surveillance of four million citizens carried out by the federal government through the system.

The prime minister should acquire intelligence agency reports and bring the issue before the cabinet, the court judgment stated. Furthermore, according to the decision, the prime minister must report to the court on the Lawful Management System within six weeks.

“The prime minister will tell whether the surveillance of citizens is going on against the law and constitution,” the court stated.

Along with identifying who is in charge of the surveillance system that is interfering with citizens’ privacy, he should also disclose who installed the Lawful Interception Management System and mass surveillance. By July 5, all telecom firms were ordered by the court to submit their reports about the Lawful Interception Management System.

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