LAHORE: A full bench of the Lahore High Court turned down the federal government’s request for more time to file reply to a petition, seeking cancellation of registration of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) as a political party, and summoned the attorney general of Pakistan on October 17 in this regard. As the proceedings commenced on Wednesday, standing council Hina Hafeezullah appeared on behalf of the government and said that matter regarding cancellation of the MQM’s registration was under consideration. The bench, comprising Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, Justice Mazhar Iqbal Sidhu and Justice Erum Sajjad Gull, denounced the law officer for seeking more and more time on each hearing to submit the government’s reply. The bench also disapproved a report submitted by a section officer of the Interior Ministry and termed it a non-serious effort. The judges expressed dismay on lethargy of the federal government in taking action against the MQM’s London-based chief in wake of his anti-state speeches. The bench pointed out that article 17(2) of the constitution required the federal government to refer the matter to the Supreme Court within 15 days after issuing a declaration against a party if found operating against sovereignty or integrity of the country. The bench remarked, “Had the government taken strict action after May 2015 speech of MQM chief Altaf Husain, the situation would not have been so bad.” The standing council said that the Election Commission of Pakistan was the appropriate forum to decide about cancellation of a political party and the government had been pondering upon the option. She failed to come up with a satisfactory answer when asked by the bench at what stage the government’s actions were. Hina Hafeezullah claimed that the Rangers had taken series of action after the anti-state speech of Altaf Hussain. The bench on this posed a question, asking whether the actions taken by Rangers vindicated constitutional obligations of the government. The petitioner’s counsel asked the bench to summon record of the Interior Ministry, saying the authorities had been misleading the judges. The bench directed the attorney general to appear on next date of hearing. After coming out of the court, the petitioners and their lawyers chanted slogans against MQM and India. Advocate Sardar Aftab Virk and others had filed these petitions. Petitioner counsel Ahmad Awais said that under the Constitution of Pakistan, every political party must be patriot and loyal to the state. He said that MQM chief Altaf Hussain was involved in anti-Pakistan activities and in his speech had raised slogans against Pakistan. He also submitted that MQM Altaf Hussain was a British national and was running the party from abroad, which was violation of the political parties registration law. He pointed out that under the Political Parties Ordinance 2002, the federal government had the right to impose ban on any party which was not patriot or loyal to the state. He requested the court to order the federal government for canceling registration of MQM.