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Madina incident: Islamabad court bars police from filing blasphemy case against PTI leaders

Updated 12 May, 2022
<p>Composite image of screengrabs from videos of PM Shehbaz-led delegation being accosted, harassed at the Prophet’s mosque in Madina, KSA on April 29.</p>

Composite image of screengrabs from videos of PM Shehbaz-led delegation being accosted, harassed at the Prophet’s mosque in Madina, KSA on April 29.

The Islamabad High Court has barred the police from registering a first information report (FIR) against PTI leaders over the Madina incident in which members of the PM Shehbaz-led delegation to Saudi Arabia were harassed while at the Prophet’s mosque.

He made the remarks as the court resumed hearing the petition filed by PTI leader and former information minister Fawad Chaudhry calling for cases registered against the party's members under the country's blasphemy laws to be declared “illegal”.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah remarked that prima facie there appeared to be no case and stopped the police from registering further cases against the PTI leaders.

Expressing displeasure at the case, the chief justice remarked that there were many examples of how such blasphemy allegations pan out. “We have the cases of the Sri Lankan manager and Mashal Khan,” he remarked.

"We have disrespected the Constitution. We don't consider it supreme otherwise the country wouldn't be in the state it is in right now," he continued.

Blashpemy charges

The FIR was registered under Sections 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) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

A citizen from Faisalabad Muhammad Naeem lodged the complaint against key PTI leaders and their associates including Fawad Chaudhry, Shahbaz Gill, Qasim Suri, Sahibzada Jahangir and Aneel Musarrat. Former interior minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed and his nephew, Sheikh Rashid Shafiq, were also named in the FIR.

It contends that the Masjid-i-Nabwi incident was part of a planned conspiracy. It cited videos being shared on electronic and social media as well as speeches made by PTI leaders as proof of the conspiracy.

Religion card

Speaking during the hearing, PTI's Fawad Chaudhry said that it must be decided that the religion isn't used by politicians.

Chaudhry blamed the current interior minister, Rana Sanaullah, for creating divisions within society. Rana Sana along with Law Minister Ataullah Tarar had announced the filing of the case against the PTI leaders.

In response, Justice Minallah said that politicians are responsible for bringing stability to the country. "For them to make allegations of a religious nature is rather unfortunte."

The hearing has been adjourned for a fortnight.