Pakistan's Supreme Court on Wednesday voiced dissatisfaction over the role of the country's powerful spy agency ISI during a major sit-in last year, saying "you are a top agency, don't make a joke out of the country."
Hundreds of Tehreek-e-Labbaik supporters had camped at the Faizabad Interchange here for three weeks since November 6, calling for the resignation of Law Minister Zahid Hamid who they blamed for a hastily-abandoned change in the oath of elected representatives.
The government was forced to accept Tehreek-e-Labbaik's demands after a government operation to break up the sit-in went awry and sparked violence across the country.
During a suo motu hearing of Faizabad sit-in, the two judge bench comprising of Justice Mushir Alam and Justice Qazi Faez Isa, also asked the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) whether a cell to monitor the activities of such protests existed in the organisation or not, and if it did then was the top agency's representative aware of who the protesters were, what the working of the group was like and the issues.
"You are a top agency, don't make a joke out of the country," the Express Tribune quoted Justice Isa as saying.
The bench also inquired about the financial sources and income of protesters, further questioning the budget of the ISI, the report said.
"Should the top court summon the ISI chief to get answers? If you [the representative] don't have a coherent answer?"
Justice Isa further remarked that the ISI is doing nothing for the people of Pakistan. He said that Pakistan did not come into being due to the army, it was the struggle of the common people.
The bench directed the agencies, including the ISI, to brief Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Ashtar Ausaf Ali over the queries raised by the bench.
The court further directed the AGP to submit a concise statement of the issues raised within 15 days.
When the sit-in spiralled out of control, the government ordered police and paramilitary troops to stand down and called on the army to restore order in the federal capital.
Subsequently, Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa went into a huddle with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi where they concurred that army troops would not use force against protesters and would only provide back-end support.
The Faizabad Interchange is the main gateway between the twin Pakistani cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad.