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Today the FIA arrested a twitter activist @JalalQazi from Peshawar for posting a tweet on 22nd Sept, they placed upon him charges for violating the Electronic Transaction Ordinance of 2002 specifically clause 36: Violation of Privacy of Information and 37: Damage to Information Systems (read clauses below) these are, as per my understanding (?), non-bailable offences permitting the FIA unbridled arrest of Jalal Qazi for up to 90 days without follow-up
Digging into the issue after his arrest, it seems the case hovers around a set of tweets made by Qazi Jalal on 22nd September (tweets deleted) where he posted referencing to an engagement card of a certain Mr Faizan Malik – who could be the son-in-law of Honorable Justice Irshad Qaiser, the judge who had according to Qazi Jalal granted bail to Ihsan Ali the Vice Chancellor of Abdul Wali Khan University who was arrested a few days earlier on corruption charges. Faizan Malik is a lecturer who has also been under investigation, of the 1400 appointees who were inducted into the university during the ANP tenure – starting his tenure as a lecturer in May 2012. His CV hosted on the university website establishes the linkage of Faizan Malik as listed on the engagement card is the same as his fathers name listed there is the same, being the son of Ghulam Mohy-ud-Din Malik
On 15th September Ihsan Ali, the VC of Abdul Wali Khan University and three other educationalists were arrested by Ehtesab Commission and sent to a 14-day remand to Peshawar Central Jail for involvement in corruption to the tune of Rs 550 Million, the media published reports on this arrest partially siding with the ANP narrative and playing a sympathetic anti-educationist angle almost as if to blame Ehtesab commission for wrongdoing. The case took an interesting twist when seven days later on 22nd September, Ihsan Ali was granted bail by the Honorable Justice Irshad Qaiser. Which may have, in normal circumstances been a routine bail, but had it not been for some investigative sleuthing of Qazi Jalal who dug out an engagement card possibly establishing a conflict-of-interest between the honorable judge and her to be son-in-law Faizan Malik a lecturar at Abdul Wali Khan University, and possibly undergoing the same investigation
The on-ground reports from Peshawar is that, FIA is responding and harassing Qazi Jalal on possibly contempt of court charges started by Justice Irshad Qaiser, Ihsan Ali the bailed VC, ANP Senator Sitara Ayaz (who is ironically also subverting arrests from Ehtesab Commission under ‘stay orders’ issued by Honorable Justice Irshad Qaiser, Qazi Jalal reported on the Senators case as well) the case is also being propped up fully pushed by the corrupt ANP party as they are intrinsically involved in the corruption scandal.
The more pertinent issue is if this tweet was wrong as deemed by the honorable judge, Qazi Jalal should have been asked by the honorable judge, even in pursuant of a proper legal proceeding to ask him to delete &/or apologize for this inaccurate information, but quite ironically it seems they may have chosen to bully and harass Qazi Jalal using the FIA to exercise the ETO ordinance 2002, which if you read the clauses below, there is truly no direct violation under which Qazi Jalal should be arrested, unless they choose to draw hypothetical conclusions to the wordings of the law, best part is that a tweet gathering a mere 8 retweets was deemed damaging the repute of the people involved in the AWKU and others directly/indirectly involved that required such drastic harassment
This is a very serious development, the Cyber Crime Bill which is presently in the National Assembly of Pakistan for approval in its present form, is also a prime example of what could happen if such weak laws are promulgated – it allows irresponsible state agencies to abuse vague injunctions to harass the citizens of Pakistan on the flimsiest of excuses, the present ETO clause 36 and 37 falls well outside realm of this arrest but the agencies found enough of an excuse to arrest & harass Jalal – It could happen to you too
UPDATE 1: Wednesday 28th October 2:55pm : Its interesting to dig around to find out how Qazi Jalal had access to the engagement card, it has come to our attention that Qazi Jalal tweeted this image of the card after spotting it on his facebook friends Haybat Khan’s timeline
The original poster made the update on 22nd Sept 12:47pm and Qazi Jalal made a post almost 8 hours after on 22nd Sept 9:14pm. The FIA if are interested in a credible investigation should pursue the original content from Facebook (credit for the find Sidra Imran)
UPDATE 2: Wednesday 28th October 6:40pm: Reports are coming in that all day efforts were being made by family and the local jirga to come to some understanding and have a Muafi Nama (Apology) signed between the parties, but we’ve have just found out that Qazi Jalal has been handed over to the FIA for a 2-day remand by the court. Seems a contempt of court charge has also been tacked onto this case
UPDATE 3: Friday 30th October 4:00pm: Qazi Jalal appeared before the sessions court judge for the hearing, the Judges family has refused to accept the apology – despite having forced / convinced him to sign it in the fist place, the sessions court judge remanded him to 14-days in Peshawar Central Jail – the jail conditions are horrible, its deplorable – I personally have seen the copy of the FIR the case is only registered as a violation of ETO 36 and 37 there is no Contempt of Court Charge. The next hearing is expected to be Wednesday 4th November
UPDATE 4: Tuesday 3rd November 11:30am JALAL QAZI RELEASED ON BAIL: After much of a traumatic experience it has been reported that Jalal Qazi was granted interim bail and released from Peshawar Jail – the reports are that the family came to some understanding to manipulate his release before wednesday. Keep in mind this does not mean the issue is all sorted out, it only means Jalal Qazi has been harassed enough that they choose to release him on bail for sometime
Electronic Transaction Ordinance of 2002 – Clause 36 & 37 reads
36. Violation of privacy of information.—Any person who gains or attempts to gain access to any information system with or without intent to acquire the information contained therein or to gain knowledge of such information, whether or not he is aware of the nature or contents of such information, when he is not authorised to gain access, as aforesaid, shall be guilty of an offence under this Ordinance punishable with either description of a term not exceeding seven years, or fine which may extend to one million rupees, or with both.
37. Damage to information system, etc.— (1) Any person who does or attempts to do any act with intent to alter, modify, delete, remove, generate, transmit or store any information through or in any information system knowingly that he is not authorised to do any of the foregoing, shall be guilty of an offence under this Ordinance.— (2) Any person who does or attempts to do any act with intent to impair the operation of, or prevent or hinder access to, any information contained in any information system, knowingly that he is not authorised to do any of the foregoing, shall be guilty of an offence under this Ordinance.— (3) The offences under sub-section (1) and (2) of this section will be punishable with either description of a term not exceeding seven years or fine which may extend to one million rupees, or with both.