GUJRANWALA: The no-objection certificate (NOC) issued to the leaders of opposition alliance Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) for their rally planned in Gujranwala today comes with a number of conditions.
“Anti-state, objectionable, offensive slogans shall be strictly prohibited,” the NOC reads. The terms like ‘anti-state’ and ‘objectionable’ have often been misused to clampdown on political expression in Pakistan, especially when the authorities do not offer broader explanations about the nature of these offences.
Further, the NOC also says that nothing against the ‘spirit of Islam’, judiciary and the armed forces would be allowed. This particular section of the NOC has generated reaction from the supporters of the PDM online who think the move is aimed at censoring speeches critical of the powers-that-be.
Former PM and PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif and other leaders of the party were recently charged with sedition in an FIR registered by Punjab police following their political activities including hard-hitting speeches at an All Parties Conference (APC). While the police had dropped charges against all other accused, the FIR still has Sharif’s name and the former PM will have to face the sedition charges levelled against him if he chooses to return to Pakistan.
The PTI government had distanced itself from the sedition FIR, but analysts said its involvement in using draconian laws to intimidate opponents cannot be ruled out.