Shireen Mazari Writes To UN To Protest Misuse Of Blasphemy Laws Against Imran Khan

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Former human rights minister and PTI core committee member Shireen Mazari has written to special rapporteurs of the UN, calling for their intervention to cease the Pakistani government’s “misuse of the blasphemy law” against Imran Khan and senior PTI leaders.

“Both the Pakistan Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code contain the provisions that a Pakistani citizen may face legal action if he commits an offense even outside the country,” Federal Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar told a press conference along with Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah.

Image: Twitter

Referring to the FIRs registered against PTI leadership in different towns over the Masjid-i-Nabwi incident, the law minister denied that the cases were registered under 295-C — the anti-blasphemy law, saying they were instead enlisted under the laws introduced more than a century ago.

“These cases were registered under sections 295 and 296 related to hooliganism at sacred places, hurting religious feelings of a section of society and barring people from performing their religious rituals and are equally applicable to mosques, temples, gurdwaras, and churches.”

He said these offenses were cognizable but sought to assure the nation that the government would not interfere in the investigation process and would leave it to the court of law to penalize or free the accused. Sanaullah said the government was not barring the people from initiating legal action against the Masjid-i-Nabwi incident because on finding no legal remedy, they could resort to taking the law into their hands.

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

It is stated to be the first such criminal case lodged against top leaders of a political party under blasphemy charges in Pakistan. 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.

Complainant further adds:

Naeem further said the suspects had violated the Quranic verses by raising political slogans and using abusive language on the holy premises where scores of pilgrims were offering prayers. He said most of the suspects belonged to a political party (PTI), as was evident from the video statements that appeared on the official Twitter accounts of PTI leaders and workers before and after the nasty incident.

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 said. He particularly mentioned the name of Sheikh Rashid Shafiq, the nephew of former interior minister Sheikh Rasheed who was present in the Masjid at that time and was “confessing to his crime” through his video statement.

The complainant said another delegation of the same political party (PTI) from England also reached there. Rana Sanaullah alleged that PTI leaders had been clearly hinting at the incident before it took place but the government ignored their statements, thinking the rivals could not use the most sacred places on earth for Muslims in their power politics.

He said evidence suggested that the accused were provoked by the PTI leaders here in Pakistan and that they also had links with the UK chapter of the PTI. The interior minister said the whole Ummah had condemned the incident except those who had planted it.

Referring to Imran Khan’s threat that houses of the political rivals would be besieged, the interior minister warned that the PTI leaders would also be unable to come out of their homes if workers of other parties resorted to the same tactics. Meanwhile, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) showed its serious concern over the FIR and demanded it must be withdrawn immediately.

Read More: PTI Announces Mass Resignation From National Assembly Ahead Of Election For New PM

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