“GO NAWAZ GO”: Freedom of speech or hate speech?

Posted on October 5, 2014

A petition filed before the Lahore High Court

today to direct the two major political parties to reconsider their political tactics that are leading the nation towards civil war. On one hand “GO NAWAZ GO” has resulted in a number of serious quarrels and incidents in the society and has become a symbol of psychological enigma for the PMLN representatives, which can be traced by the example of their prominent leader, chanting the same mistakenly. On the other hand, the ruling family does not hesitate extending threats and enticing political workers for being Gullu.

Following are the contents of the petition filed by the petitioner Raja Zeeshan Advocate)

“The following points require kind consideration and appropriate directions to the respondents are sought through this writ petition:

1. Whether raising of slogan “GO NAWAZ GO” is a political right of any citizen?
2. Whether threats extended by Mariam Nawaz, Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and other officials of ruling party are within the domain of constitutional law?
3. Whether leaders and members of PTI and PAT have any legal right to cause annoyance in the gatherings of ruling party?
4. Whether the slogan “GO NAWAZ GO” can be raised in official functions?
5. Whether there can be wall chalking, or exhibition of slogan “GO NAWAZ GO” in any manner is prejudicial to the interest of peace?
6. Whether this fact can be escaped from the kind notice of this honourable court that there are incidents of firing, quarrels and caused law and order situation at a number of occasions?
7. Whether slogan “GO NAWAZ GO” is not leading towards Civil War and destruction in the society?
8. Whether the slogan “GO NAWAZ GO” has not reached to the extent of dividing the nation which is likely to culminated derailing the democracy?
9. Whether the slogan “GO NAWAZ GO” and prior to this slogan the activities of PTI and PAT has not caused graved damage to the economy of this country?
10. Whether the slogan “GO NAWAZ GO” not raised to compel an elected prime minister to resign unconstitutionally?
11. Whether the slogan “GO NAWAZ GO” not a denial of supremacy of the constitution?
12. Whether even if Prime Minister resigns, would not that become an accustom in the country to gather a mob and defame the government through such like tactics?
13. Whether this is not the continuation of the actions of Gullu Butts?
14. Whether if it is not against the resolution passed by the National Assembly?
15. Whether a hated speech can be equated with freedom of speech in terms of article 19 of the constitution of Islamic republic of Pakistan and article 10 of European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR)?
16. Whether there are not certain restrictions imposed under the constitution and law of the country to avoid hatred and division in the society?
17. Whether slogan “GO NAWAZ GO” is not a cause of mental torture resulting into diseases of mind to the elite class who believes in tolerance as enshrined the teachings of Islam?
18. Whether the slogan “GO NAWAZ GO” is not the negation of teachings of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah in particular to “unity, faith and discipline”?

a. That the petitioner is a member of Lahore High Court Bar Association and believes in rule of law and supremacy of constitution. He has a master degree of law in his credit from UK. He has filed this petition as probono public i.e. public interest litigation. That the petitioner apprehends that if the tendency of hatred and intolerance is not stopped at this moment, it can cause a great damage to the federation and the democracy and a nuclear state may not become a joke in the eyes of the global world.
b. That the petitioner has no liking or disliking of any particular political party or its leaders and the purpose and spirit behind this petition is that the country may be saved any bloodshed, civil war or any incident pointed out by a political leader in his recent interview wherein he pointed out that there was a conspiracy of assassination of some prominent leader and workers of any party. The apex court also passed a restrain order that the institutions are to remain within the domain of the constitution apprehending any unconstitutional change.
c. That the petitioner has no adequate remedy except to invoke the constitutional jurisdiction of this honourable court.
Under the circumstances and submissions stated above it is humbly prayed:
a. That the respondent no. 1 may be directed to ensure that the political parties abide by the code of ethics and remain within the domain of the constitutional law
b. That the respondents no. 6 and 7 (Imran Khan and Tahir-ul-Qadri may be directed to refrain from causing further division and hatred in the society by restraining there workers raising slogan “GO NAWAZ GO”.
c. That the respondent no. 3, 4 and 5 may be restrained from extending threats of physical torture to the members of the other political parties
d. That the respondents may be directed to assure that they will refrain from allowing anybody to raise slogan “GO NAWAZ GO” or any other slogan in the meetings of other political parties in particular the official gatherings
e. That any other direction or order which this honourable court feels necessary in the above-said circumstances may be passed in the interest of nation and justice.”

For me, this is not only a fit case for hearing but also an opportunity for us to interpret many confused terms that are used to exploit the situations. Courts might not be able to restraint the individuals from chanting slogans and regulate the same but to the extent of political strategies, this could be an important judgement to get things right from judicial perspective.