Azhar Siddique, who had moved the Lahore High Court against the Aurat March 2020, changed his stance in the court during Thursday’s hearing.
He said that he never wanted to stop the march from taking place in Lahore. “Do you remember the posters that women made last time and what happened after that?” he asked.
Chief Justice Mamoon Rashid Sheikh remarked that the court can’t impose a restriction on freedom of expression. He pointed out that it is being reported that the case has been accepted for hearing and that is not the case. He said that irresponsible statements shouldn’t be shared on social media.
No one will stop the march, said the judge. “We just want to know the stance of the government institutions,” he added. The FIA and police have been instructed to submit their replies by March 3.
Lawyer Hina Jillani raised objections over the petition. She said that women want to hold the march to highlight the importance of women in our society. The march is being held on a Sunday and will not affect any businesses, she argued. “What does the petitioner have to do with this?”
The petition was filed on February 24. It claimed that the march is funded by “anti-state parties” and its “hidden agenda is to spread anarchy, vulgarity and hatred”.
Jillani, while speaking to journalists after the hearing, said that she doesn’t think that the rally is controversial in any way. Different generations participate in it and use their freedom of expression, she said.
“We won’t tolerate people teaching us our values,” she said. “They [people like the petitioner] see obscenity in everything,” Jillani added. “Do you not want women to talk about their rights?”