The Islamabad High Court on Saturday said it expected the federal government to take measures to remove the impression of “misuse of religious emotions”.
The court issued a five-page verdict on the blasphemy cases against PTI leaders for some miscreants shouting slogans at Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his delegation and harassing a couple of federal ministers inside the premises of Masjid-i-Nabwi during their trip to Saudi Arabia last month.
The government had accused the PTI leadership of inciting the heckling and harassment of its members, including the information minister, at the mosque. Subsequently, several cases were registered across the country against PTI leaders, including its chairman Imran Khan, on allegations of committing blasphemy. The PTI had approached the IHC against the FIRs to seek relief.
In the verdict, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah wrote that the federal government should not file any cases against PTI leaders without concrete evidence.
The judge also ordered the IGP Islamabad to ensure that no case would be registered against PTI leaders until the force had solid proof of their involvement in the Masjid-i-Nabwi incident.
The judgment read that according to the petitions, the PTI leadership was being subjected to “political victimisation” and “fabricated” cases were being registered in the country over the incident.
“It is an admitted fact that the leadership of the PTI was not present there [Masjid-i-Nabwi) when the incident took place,” the order read.
It further stated that it was the responsibility of the State to ensure that no one used religion for personal or political benefits.
The court noted that Saudi officials had launched an operation against those involved in the incident and they had not informed the Pakistani government about their suspicion of the PTI leadership’s involvement in the debacle.
“The misuse of religion card in the past has placed the lives of people in danger,” the verdict read.
It added that the environment created on the basis of religion had led to intolerance and extrajudicial murders in the past.
The verdict noted that the murders of university student Mishal Khan and a factory manager, who was a citizen of Sri Lanka, in Sialkot were its worst example.
“Such incidents are violations of basic human rights which cannot be tolerated in a country that runs under a Constitution.”
On May 12, the IHC had barred the Islamabad police from registering blasphemy cases against the leadership of the PTI over the Masjid-i-Nabwi incident.
During that hearing, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry, one of the petitioners, said in the past no government had resorted to such tactics.
“We do not have any hope from the interior minister [Rana Sanaullah] but the law minister [Azam Nazeer Tarar] is a ‘literate’ person,” he said, adding that the use of religion for political gains was condemnable.
Before the departure of PM Shehbaz and his delegation to Saudi Arabia, former federal minister Sheikh Rashid had hinted that “something would happen to them”.
“When these people will visit the two holy mosques, we will see how people treat them,” he had said while addressing a press conference in Peshawar.
(With input from agencies)