In the Islamabad High Court, former Information Minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Fawad Chaudhry has challenged the blasphemy cases filed against the party’s leadership under the country’s blasphemy laws.
Some Pakistani pilgrims chanted slogans at Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his delegation during their visit to the Masjid-i-Nabwi last week, prompting the filing of these cases.
The government claimed that the PTI leadership planned and orchestrated the attack. PTI leaders, on the other hand, refuted such claims, claiming that the incident was a spontaneous reaction that reflected public outrage.
The petition was filed on Fawad’s behalf by the PTI legal team of Advocate Faisal Fareed and Advocate Ali Bukhari. Asad Khan, assistant registrar of the high court, confirmed that the petition had been received.
The Federation of Pakistan has been named as a respondent in the case, along with the interior secretary, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, the director general of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), and the police chiefs of Islamabad, Punjab, Sindh, and Balochistan.
Fawad Chaudhry’s petition asked the high court to order state officials, including the police and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), to “immediately stop the unlawful and illegal harassment of the petitioner and his colleagues.”
It also requested that all FIRs filed in various parts of the country against the petitioner and others on the charge of alleged blasphemy at Masjid-e-Nabwi be added to the record. It asked the high court to order the police and FIA to stop “violating and disrespecting the privacy, honour, and sanctity of the petitioner’s families and households.”
The authorities should inform “the petitioner of the grounds and reasons for the registration of criminal cases against them” in order to protect his fundamental rights to consult and be represented by a lawyer of his choice. Furthermore, before taking any action against the petitioner, this august court must be satisfied.”
Fawad claimed that the FIRs against the PTI leadership violated the Constitution’s Articles 4 (Right of Individuals to be Treated in accordance with Law), 5 (Loyalty to the State), 17 (Freedom of Association), 19, 19-A (Right to Information), and 68.
The petition urged the court to follow the Supreme Court’s ruling in the “Sughran Bibi vs the State” case of 2018, in which the apex court ruled that there must be only one FIR for a crime or incident.
Imran and other PTI leaders have been arrested.
In the aftermath of the Masjid-i-Nabwi incident, Faisalabad police had filed a ‘blasphemy laws’ case against PTI chairman Imran Khan and over 150 others, including some party stalwarts.
The FIR was filed under the Pakistan Penal Code sections 295 (injuring or defiling a place of worship with the intent to insult a religion), 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), 296 (disturbing religious assembly), and 109 (injuring or defiling a place of worship with the intent to insult a religion) (abetment).
Muhammad Naeem, a Faisalabad resident, nominated top PTI leaders and Imran’s close associates, including Chaudhry, Gill, Suri, Sahibzada Jahangir, Aneel Musarrat, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, and his nephew, Sheikh Rashid Shafiq.
The complainant claimed the Masjid-i-Nabwi incident was a “well-thought-out conspiracy,” and he backed up his claims with videos and speeches from PTI leaders.
Many PTI leaders endorsed or supported the incident, despite the fact that hundreds of thousands of Muslims around the world strongly condemned it, he claimed.
Shafiq, who was present in the Masjid at the time and was “confessing to his crime” through his video statement, was specifically mentioned.
Another delegation from the same political party (PTI) from England, according to the complainant, also arrived. Sahibzada Jehangir alias Cheeku, Aneel Musarrat, Nabil Musarrat, Ijaz Haq, Umair Ilyas, Rana Abdul Sattar, Barrister Amir Ilyas, Gohar Jilani, and others were among those named, according to him.