Pakistan’s Supreme Court on ordered the supporters of Imran Khan and cleric Tahirul Qadri to clear the Constitution Avenue within 24 hours so that the movement of judges and officials is not hampered.
Thousands of supporters of Khan and Qadri are staging a sit-in on the Constitution Avenue on which the Parliament and the Supreme Court are situated. The protesters have blocked the main avenue for all kinds of traffic.
Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk said supporters of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and Qadri’s Pakistan Awami Tehreek should move away from the road as “this route will be used to travel to the court tomorrow.”
The order was given by the court while hearing petitions filed against the protests for using extra-constitutional measures to remove the government.
Mulk lamented that the fence of the court was being used by the protesters to dry their clothes. He was referring to a picture in the media showing clothes of protesters hanging outside the apex court.
He said the protesters had set up hurdles not only for the judges but also the lawyers and litigants.
The PTI chief’s lawyer Hamid Khan told the court that their protesters were sitting in an open area in front of the Parliament where no office is located.
Ali Zafar, representing Qadri, said he will convey the court orders to the leadership of party.
The attorney general told the court that the government was ready to provide an alternative avenue at the sprawling Sports Complex in the capital.
It was not immediately clear whether the protesters will shift to another venue or simply clear the Constitution Avenue for vehicles to ply.
Making a critical observation about Qadri, a Canadian national who has sworn an oath of loyalty to the British Queen, Justice Jawad Khawaja said “protests on streets must be the norm in Canada.”
The court adjourned the hearing till August 27.
Supporters of Khan and Qadri have been camping outside the Parliament building here for the last 12 days. They are calling for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s resignation, alleging vote rigging in last year’s general election.
The court said that since the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2013, has come into force, there is no need for the court to issue any direction to comply with the law.