Rights activists have condemned the case registered against former prime minister Imran Khan and other officials of the previous government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) under blasphemy laws, saying that weaponisation of blasphemy allegations should be avoided.
In a statement, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said that the case should be withdrawn immediately.
“No government or political party can afford to allow allegations of blasphemy to be weaponised against its rivals,” it said in a tweet.
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Farhatullah Babar also condemned the FIR.
An FIR under blasphemy laws was registered against Imran Khan and other members of the previous government, over hooliganism at Masjid-e-Nabvi during which Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s delegation visiting Saudi Arabia was harassed by the hooligans. The case was registered in Faisalabad, it emerged on Sunday.
According to reports, the FIR includes 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 private citizen named Muhammad Naeem lodged the complaint on which the FIR was registered. Those named in the case include former minister Fawad Chaudhry, former SAPM Shahbaz Gill, former National Assembly deputy speaker Qasim Suri, PTI leaders Sahibzada Jahangir, Aneel Musarrat. Former interior minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed has also been included in the FIR along with his nephew, Sheikh Rashid Shafiq.
The complaint claims that the hooliganism at Masjid-e-Nabvi was planned and executed under a ‘thought-out scheme and conspiracy’. Further, the complainant maintained that the involvement of the PTI leaders and the incident being a planned scheme was clear from the clips being shared online as well as statements of some PTI leaders.
‘PTI also weaponised blasphemy accusations against rivals’
Meanwhile, analysts and rights activists have noted how the PTI had previously used the religion card against its political opponents.
Lawyer Reema Omer commented on the development and tweeted that 295-A is an ‘oppressive law’.
“PTI clearly has no red lines, but the Govt must not stoop to its level,” she added.
Just a few days ago, former human rights minister and PTI leader Shireen Mazari was seen accusing Finance Minister Miftah Ismail of blasphemy. Earlier, when the PTI government was facing a no-confidence motion, it had indirectly accused the then opposition of disrespecting Islam, saying that Imran Khan represented all that is good while the opposition stood up for ‘evil’.