| Farhat says institution of blasphemy cases against rival PTI leaders is most disturbing

| Have opposed weaponisation of religion-based laws in past… will oppose it in future


ISLAMABAD   -  Pakistan People’s Party yesterday said that the PPP was against registration of blasphemy cases against Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf leaders and activists who created a scene at the holy Masjid-e-Nabvi (PBUH) last week.

“Institution of blasphemy cases against rival PTI leaders is most disturbing. Insane. Condemnable Have opposed weaponisation of religion based laws in past, oppose it now, will oppose in future also,” tweeted PPP Parliamentarians Secretary General Farhatullah Babar. He added: “Need to prevent misuse of blasphemy law, not to weaponise it. Urge sanity.”

The senior PPP leader said the “unfortunate victims of (PTI chief) Imran Khan’s poisonous narrative are those Pakistanis in Madinah who believed in the rightness of what they did in Masjid Nabvi to spread his poison. Abandoned by Khan now, they need be given Counselor access. Their handlers in Pakistan be brought to justice.”  Earlier, the PPP had condemned the PTI workers’ attitude and demanded action by the govt. PPP Vice President Sherry Rehman alleged that PTI had promoted the politics of intolerance and violence. The PTI workers had chased the Pakistani cabinet members and chanted abusive slogans. Sherry Rehman, who is also the Federal Minister for Climate Change , said the PPP strongly and unequivocally condemns the abusive slogans chanted against cabinet members in a place as holy and sacred as Masjid-e-Nabvi.

Another senior PPP leader Nafisa Shah said the PPP strongly condemned the incident that took place in Masjid-e-Nabavi when Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif along with his delegation entered the mosque to pay respect at the Roza-e-Rasool (PBUH). “The incidents that took place in Masjid Nabavi and Islamabad are unfortunate. The slogans against cabinet members in Masjid-e-Nabavi is a shameful act. If this culture develops, it will be very dangerous for the country,” she added. Yesterday, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan called for immediate withdrawal of the cases registered against top PTI leadership, including its chairman Imran Khan, under blasphemy laws. “The cases registered against senior PTI leaders under S. 295-A must be withdrawn immediately,” the top rights body wrote in a recent tweet. It added: “No government or political party can afford to allow allegations of blasphemy to be weaponised against its rivals.” Former Prime Minister Imran Khan, former interior minister Sheikh Rashid, Fawad Chaudhry, Shahbaz Gill and Sahibzada Jehangir, Aneel Mussarat and Barrister Amir Ilyas have been named in the First Information Report.

The complainant is of the view that incident occurred at the Masjid-e-Nabvi on April 28 was planned by the PTI leaders. Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah also backed the registration of blasphemy cases against PTI leaders, saying there was no justification to not book them for violating the sanctity of Roza-e-Rasool (PBUH). However, the development angered the members of PTI. Former information minister Fawad Chaudry said that it was the first time that the Pakistani government invoked blasphemy laws against the Opposition. “Probably first time in the history of Pakistan Government is using Blasphemy laws against opposition earlier private sects and extremists weaponised these sections to avenge Personal vendetta but today Law min n interior min triumphantly claimed victimisation as success,” he wrote on Twitter.