Can a case of high treason be made against Imran Khan?


PTI Chairman Imran Khan. — AFP/File
PTI Chairman Imran Khan. — AFP/File 

Reportedly, the federal government is preparing to try for high treason President Arif Alvi, former prime minister Imran Khan, former deputy speaker Qasim Suri and the Governor of Punjab Omar Cheema after they violated the Constitution. reached out to legal expert Saroop Ijaz for his thoughts on using Article 6 of the Constitution against rival politicians:

“Arguably, a case can be made under Article 6”

Article 6 is a very serious matter and it should not be treated lightly. There is a need to differentiate between the violation of the Constitution, and its subversion or abrogation, which is what Article 6 entails.

Now, the Constitution is violated quite frequently in Pakistan. Courts hear such cases almost every day where an illegality has been committed. For example, if a person is denied a fundamental right. So, let’s be clear, violating the Constitution does not come under Article 6.

But what Article 6 talks about is a systematic mechanism and a well-thought-out attempt to block the operation of the Constitution. This is far more serious than a violation.

The question to ask is that what the deputy speaker of the national assembly did, by blocking the vote of no-confidence, and then the former prime minister dissolving the assembly, are these acts at par with, let’s say, retired General Musharraf’s 2007 emergency, which has now been held as an abrogation of the Constitution?

Arguably, yes. It can be argued that there was an organised attempt by the previous government to make the Constitution irrelevant and block its workings, meaning holding it in abeyance. Although, we would have more clarity on this after the detailed judgement of the Supreme Court is out.

Part of the problem here is also that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government has weaponised the language of treason, by using Article 5 to block the vote of no-confidence. With this act, the deputy speaker brought treason into the conversation, which is most unfortunate.

But let me emphasise that if Article 6 is to be used, it should be taken seriously and not used as a threat or as a tool of political rhetoric.

If the government can come up with an argument that what happened can rise to the level [of Article 6] then a case can be made, but again the detailed court order will give us clarity.

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