Islamabad: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has directed the Islamabad police to refrain from filing cases of blasphemy against former Prime Minister Imran Khan and his cabinet colleagues in the April 28 Prophet’s Mosque incident.
Chief Justice Athar Minallah in a written order on a number of petitions filed by the leaders of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), including former Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, ex-Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Qasim Khan Suri, Irman Khan’s aide Dr Shahbaz Gill and others, held that since the petitioners were not present at the place where the incident took place, there was no need to register blasphemy cases against them.
The court has noted that although religious sentiments ought to be respected, simultaneously, it is the obligation of the state, as defined in the constitution, to take appropriate measures to ensure that religion was not exploited or misused for personal or political gains.
“It is an undisputed fact that religion has been exploited by organs of the state in the past and such exploitation has led to putting lives of innocent persons at grave risk,” the court’s order emphasised.
On May 12, the court had stopped Islamabad Police from registering a case against Fawad Chaudhry under the blasphemy law.
In Faisalabad, however, an FIR was registered against the PTI leadership which, according to the complainant, orchestrated and masterminded the April 28 incident when some protesters inside the Prophet’s Mosque started chanting slogans and hurling abuses at the members of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s delegation upon their entry at the holy site.
In its latest order the court held that neither they were present at the occurrence nor the Saudi government identified or sought their custody.
After the incident, the Saudi authorities took into custody some protesters for “violating the regulations” and “disrespecting” the sanctity of the holy mosque.
The IHC also referred to that in its order saying, “It has also not been denied that the authorities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have taken cognizance of the detestable conduct and proceedings have been initiated against the persons who were involved.”
Therefore, registration of blasphemy cases against them was not required.
Report sought from interior ministry
The IHC Chief Justice directed the interior ministry to obtain reports from the respective provincial governments.
Moreover, the federal government has also been directed to ensure that no case was registered against the PTI leadership unless there was verifiable information regarding their involvement in the incident.