Misuse of blasphemy laws, PTI to raise issue with UN

    Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has decided to raise the issue of misuse of blasphemy and registration of FIRs against its leaders on the global forum.

    The decision was made after more than 150 FIRs were launched across Pakistan against the PTI leaders. The cases have been registered under sections 295-A and 295-B of the Pakistan Penal Code. These sections deal with the blasphemy and hurting religious sentiments.

    The party has decided to approach the United Nation for an investigation into the misuse of the blasphemy laws. PTI leader Shireen Mazari will write a letter to the UN special representative in this regard.

    Addressing a press conference Sunday, federal ministers Rana Sanaullah and Azam Nazir Tarar announced the government would support any probe and legal action into the Masjid-e-Nabwi incident.

    Interior Minister Sanaullah said people’s emotion were hurt and they voiced their anger and filed applications with the police and other institutions to seek legal action.

    “We are not in favour of government getting involved in any legal procedure, but if people want their grievances and emotion redressed in a legal way, the government should not stop them,” he said.

    On Sunday, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) detained Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) member National Assembly (MNA) Sheikh Rashid Shafiq in connection with the incident.

    Shafiq was taken into custody at the New Islamabad Airport when he returned from Saudi Arabia after performing Umrah. According to the FIA officials, the arrest has been made after a case was registered against Shafiq and 150 others in Faisalabad’s Madina Town police station for desecrating the holy mosque.

    However, PTI leaders have condemned the government’s actions and the use of blasphemy laws against its leadership.

    Former information minister Fawad Chaudhry said they government is using blasphemy laws against the opposition.

    “Probably [the] first time in the history of Pakistan the [g]overnment is using [b]lasphemy laws against opposition. [E]arlier, private sects and extremists weaponised these sections to avenge [p]ersonal vendetta but today Law [minister and] interior [minister] triumphantly claimed victimisation as success @amnesty,” tweeted Chaudhry.

    Former Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari said she was not surprised by the “dirty tricks” of registering a “fake FIR” by Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, whom she described as a “shameless criminal”.

    “Not surprised to find dirty tricks shameless criminal Rana Sana get registered fake FIR for blasphemy against Imran Khan & others! Clearly Crime Minister & his cabal of crooks brought in by US regime change conspiracy getting desperate [because] they have no legitimacy amongst nation,” she tweeted.

    Lawyer and human rights activist Jibran Nasir said the police can’t register FIR under 295-A on a citizen’s complaint, instead, it requires complaint on the government’s order as per section 196 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

    Kashif Aslam, Deputy Director of the Catholic bishops’ National Commission for Justice and Peace NCJP, agreed.

    “This is totally unacceptable. It is obvious that blasphemy cases are only used to settle personal scores. We reject using religion in political issues,” he told foreign media.

    “Imran Khan is already using the religion card and we urge this government to refrain from this. They should address this issue in the political context only.”

    Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) also condemned the registration of cases and demanded the government to immediately withdraw them.

    In a tweet, HRCP said, “The cases registered against senior PTI leaders under S. 295-A must be withdrawn immediately. No government or political party can afford to allow allegations of blasphemy to be weaponised against its rivals.”

    The incident
    A group of Pakistani pilgrims shouted slogans and expletives Thursday night as federal ministers Marriyum Aurangzeb and Shahzain Bugti entered the mosque to pray and pay respect at the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)’s shrine.

    The ministers are part of the Pakistani delegation led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on a three-day official visit.

    Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif was in a shuttle cart with Saudi officials and was guarded by Saudi security officers.

    The video of the incident, shared by many including PTI leaders, draw a strong reaction from people on social media.

    Saudi embassy confirms arrests
    The embassy of Saudi Arabia in Pakistan Friday confirmed that “some” Pakistani pilgrims were arrested for disrespecting Majisd-e-Nabwi.

    The protesters were taken into custody by Saudi authorities for “violating the regulations” and “disrespecting” the sanctity of the holy mosque, the embassy in Islamabad said.

    The Saudi embassy did not confirm how many people were arrested nor did it identify them. However, it said that the police action was still going on.

    Madina police, later, put out a statement saying that five Pakistanis were arrested for using inappropriate language on the premises of Masjid-e-Nabwi.

    The detained persons face charges of disrespecting the sanctity of the Prophet’s (PBUH) mosque and disrupting the security and peace of pilgrims.

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