A writ petition PAT’s advocate Ishtiaq Semuel filed in the Lahore High Court (LHC) challenges the exclusion of section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 in the FIR registered against 21 PML-N leaders involved in the Model Town incident. According to Semuel, the Faisal Town police had included sections of their own choice when they registered the FIR rather than what Minhajul Quran demanded.

What is Section 7? It lays out what punishment should be meted for a terrorist act. Thus “the death of any person be punished with death; and in any other case, be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than seven years but may extend to life”. Ouch. Had CM Shahbaz Sharif resigned after the fiasco, the PMLN would not be in such a precarious position today. Was the Model Town Massacre an “act of terror”? Yes, indeed. According to Section 6 of the Act, person is said to commit a terrorist act if, “the effect of his actions will be to, strike terror or create a sense of fear and insecurity…or be likely to cause, the death of, or injury to, any person or persons…”

But just for the sake of argument, there’s more in Section 6 relevant to our current national discourse. The definition of terrorism includes, destruction of property on a large scale (like the Model Town Massacre), a widespread disruption of supplies of services essential to the life of the community (brilliantly executed by PTI, PAT and the PMLN in recent weeks), or threat with use of force to public servants to prevent them from discharging their duties (PTI’s civil disobedience), or an act of civil commotion (need this one even be spelled out?). All our esteemed politicians have twisted law into whatever they want to justify, whether it is the right to protest, or the right to remain Prime Minister. When the law exists, why not create precedents, FIRs, and throw all these soap-box messiahs into jails?

But about the issue at hand, the Punjab government insisted that PAT demanded the FIR with no mention of terrorism clauses. In fact Minhajul Quran’s lawyer Mansoor Afridi said on a TV talk show that the case had been registered as per his request. Was this petition an afterthought? It’s all a matter of whom one chooses to believe, and who can manipulate the truth to fit their own self-centred narratives. The law is secondary.