Pakistan: FIR filed against Imran Khan under blasphemy laws over incident at Masjid-e-Nabwi

According to the report, the charges are brought against the leadership for involvement in the incident at Masjid-e-Nabwi in the Saudi city of Medina, where Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and federal ministers were ridiculed by some Pakistani pilgrims

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Sunday, May 01, 2022, 03:18 PM IST
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A picture of the mosque from the south, with the city of Medina in the background | Wikimedia Commons

An FIR was lodged on Sunday against former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan and other top brass of the party in Faisalabad.

According to the report, the charges are brought against the leadership for involvement in the incident at Masjid-e-Nabwi, where Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and federal ministers were ridiculed by some Pakistani pilgrims.

The charges have been registered under Sections 295, 295-A, 296, and 109 of the Pakistan Penal Code, also referred to as ‘blasphemy laws’. The sections relate to harming a place of worship with intent to insult a religion, deliberate and malicious intent to outrage religious sentiment, disturbing religious assembly and abetment.

The FIR, registered on the complaint of a common citizen Muhammad Naeem in Faisalabad, names key PTI leaders and associates — Fawad Chaudhry, Shahbaz Gill, Qasim Suri, Sahibzada Jahangir, Aneel Musarrat as well as former interior minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed. Rashid's nephew, Sheikh Rashid Shafiq, has also been named in the FIR.

According to the complainant, the incident at Masjid-i-Nabwi was carried out under a "planned and thought out scheme and conspiracy". He said that his claims were supported by the videos that are being shared on electronic and social media as well as through speeches made by certain PTI leaders.

He alleged that Imran Khan, Fawad Chaudhry, Sheikh Rashid, Shahbaz Gill and Qasim Suri were part of a conspiracy under which other PTI leaders then led delegations to Saudi Arabia to carry out the actions at the holy mosque, which were then posted on social media outlets.

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said that there was no justification to not register a case against those who violate the sanctity of Roza-i-Rasool (peace be upon him).

Pilgrims were instigated under a plan, the minister said, adding that some of the people had travelled to Saudi Arabia from Britain. "There can be no forgiveness for what these people have done," he said.

Earlierm Sanaullah on Friday announced that Pakistan would request Saudi Arabia to take action against those involved.

Addressing a press conference flanked by Adviser to Prime Minister on Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan Qamar Zaman Kaira, Sanaullah warned PTI members of serious consequences and advised them “to stay within their limits”.

“If you want to fight with us, do democratically,” the interior minister said, adding that boundaries shouldn’t be crossed while fighting democratically.

Commenting on former interior minister Sheikh Rasheed’s statement before the Madina incident took place, Sanaullah said that former prime minister Imran Khan and Rasheed’s “planning over the incident is on record.”

He said it was clearly said that "when these people [Pakistani delegation] will visit the two holy mosques, we will see how people treat them.”

The interior minister said that he is under severe pressure after last night’s incident; however, he has asked everybody to refrain from taking any action, warning them of party discipline against them if anyone took any action.

“It is very easy to gather and send around fifty men but this action makes politics difficult,” he said, adding that this is not good for the parliamentary system.

Sanaullah went on to say that the PTI government has tested PML-N's courage and perseverance for four years.

"Compete with us according to democratic norms if you want to but do not cross the limits," Sanaullah said.

He said that Imran Khan sometimes creates drama to avoid corruption scandals.

The Interior Minister said that Imran warns people that they will not get married but he himself got married at the age of 65.

Sanaullah said that PTI has to go to the people to ask for votes but they would have to face the then if they create such an environment.

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