Fawad Chaudhry, the former Information Minister and leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), has filed a blasphemy case in the Islamabad High Court against the party’s leadership.
Some Pakistani pilgrims chanted slogans at Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his delegation during a visit to the Masjid-i-Nabwi last week, prompting the filing of these cases.
It was allegedly planned and orchestrated by the PTI leadership, according to the government. PTI leaders, on the other hand, refuted such claims, claiming that the incident was a spontaneous reaction to public outrage.
Fawad’s petition was filed by PTI’s legal team, which included Advocate Faisal Fareed and Advocate Ali Bukhari. The petition had been received, according to Asad Khan, assistant registrar of the high court.
The Federation of Pakistan has been named as a respondent in the case, along with 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 asked the high court to order state officials, including the police and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), to “immediately cease the unlawful and illegal harassment of the petitioner and his colleagues.”
It also requested that all FIRs filed against the petitioner and others in various parts of the country on the issue of alleged blasphemy at Masjid-e-Nabwi be added to the record. It asked the high court to order the police and the FIA to stop “violating and disrespecting the petitioner’s privacy, honour, and household sanctity.”
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.” Also, before filing any action against the petitioner, to satisfy this august court.”
Fawad claimed in his petition 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 2018 case “Sughran Bibi vs. the State,” in which the apex court ruled that a crime or incident must be reported only once.
PTI leaders, including Imran Khan, 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 party stalwarts.
The FIR was filed under 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 (disrupting religious assembly) (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-planned and well-executed conspiracy,” citing videos and speeches by PTI leaders to back up his claims.
Hundreds of thousands of Muslims around the world condemned the incident, but many PTI leaders endorsed or supported it, he claimed.
He singled out Shafiq, who was present in the Masjid at the time and was “confessing to his crime” via video statement.
A 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 involved, he said.