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Madina incident: Fawad moves IHC over cases against PTI leaders

PTI's legal team files plea on Fawad Chaudhry's behalf.

ISLAMABAD: Former Information Minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Fawad Chaudhry has challenged the cases registered against the party’s leadership under the country’s blasphemy laws in Islamabad High Court.

These cases were registered after some Pakistani pilgrims chanted slogans at Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his delegation during their visit to the Masjid-i-Nabwi last week.

The government claimed that it was planned and orchestrated by the PTI leadership. However, PTI leaders refuted such claims and said the incident was a spontaneous reaction and reflected the public’s anger.

PTI’s legal team, Advocate Faisal Fareed and Advocate Ali Bukhari, filed the petition on Fawad’s behalf. The high court’s assistant registrar, Asad Khan, confirmed that the petition had been received.

The Federation of Pakistan through the interior secretary, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, the director general of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) as well as the police chiefs of Islamabad, Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan have been made respondents in the case.

In the petition, Fawad Chaudhry requested the high court to issue directions to the state authorities, 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 sought the placement on record of all the FIRs registered in the various parts of the country against the petitioner and others on the issue of alleged blasphemy at Masjid-e-Nabwi. It requested the high court to stop the police and FIA from “violating and disrespecting the privacy, honour of the families, and households of the petitioner and preserve the sanctity thereof”.

The authorities should inform “the petitioner of the grounds and reasons for the registration of criminal cases against them, to ensure his fundamental rights to consult and be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice. And further to satisfy this august court before lodging any action against the petitioner”.

In his plea, Fawad said the FIRs against the PTI leadership violated Article 4 (Right of Individuals to be dealt with in accordance with law), Article 5 (loyalty to the state), Article 17 (freedom of association), Article 19, 19-A (right to information), and Article 68 of the Constitution.

The plea urged the court to strictly implement the judgement laid down by the Supreme Court in the “Sughran Bibi vs the state” case of 2018 where the apex court ruled that there must be one FIR of a crime or incident.

Imran, PTI leaders booked

A day earlier, Faisalabad police had registered a case under ‘blasphemy laws’ against the PTI chairman Imran Khan and over 150 others, including some stalwarts of the party, in the wake of the Masjid-i-Nabwi incident.

The FIR was registered under the following sections of the Pakistan Penal Code: 295 (harming or defiling a place of worship with 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 (abetment).

Complainant Muhammad Naeem, a resident of Faisalabad, nominated top leaders of the PTI and Imran’s close associates, including Chaudhry, Gill, Suri, Sahibzada Jahangir, Aneel Musarrat as well as Sheikh Rashid Ahmed and his nephew Sheikh Rashid Shafiq.

The complainant alleged the Masjid-i-Nabwi episode was a “planned and thought-out conspiracy” and supported his claims by referring to videos and speeches made by certain PTI leaders.

Many PTI leaders endorsed or supported the incident even when hundreds of thousands of people from the Muslim community were strongly condemning it worldwide, he claimed.

He particularly mentioned the name of Shafiq who was present in the Masjid at that time and was “confessing to his crime” through his video statement.

The complainant claimed another delegation of the same political party (PTI) from England also reached there. It included Sahibzada Jehangir alias Cheeku, Aneel Musarrat, Nabil Musarrat, Ijaz Haq, Umair Ilyas, Rana Abdul Sattar, Barrister Amir Ilyas, Gohar Jilani etc., he said.

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