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IHC bars authorities from taking action against PTI leaders

Fawad moves IHC to term cases against PTI leaders over Madina incident ‘illegal’

Chief Justice Athar Minallah on Monday took up a writ petition filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader and former information minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, in which the court was asked to term illegal the cases registered against his party’s leadership under blasphemy laws.
The court issued a circular to hear urgent cases during the Eid holidays and issued notices to the respondents before adjourning it until 10:30am on May 9. The court also directed the interior secretary and the respondents to ensure that Fawad was not harassed and no measures were taken against him till May 9.
The cases were registered after some Pakistani pilgrims chanted slogans inside Masjid-e-Nabwi (PBUH) last week when Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and members of his delegation were visiting the holy site. While PTI leaders said the incident was a spontaneous reaction and reflected the public’s anger, the government claims it was planned and orchestrated by the PTI leadership.
The high court’s assistant registrar, Asad Khan, confirmed that the petition had been received. PTI’s legal team, Advocate Faisal Fareed and Advocate Ali Bukhari, filed the petition on Fawad’s behalf.
The federation through the interior secretary, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) director general, and the police chiefs of Islamabad, Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan have been made respondents in the case.
In the petition, Fawad said that the newly appointed interior minister had been targeting the PTI leadership and had also “openly threatened” them with dire consequences.
Fawad alleged that Sanaullah had ordered to have him and other PTI leader nominated/booked in false criminal cases registered in various parts of the country. The petition noted that one FIR had been registered in Faisalabad, while applications had also been filed in Burewala and Islamabad.
Fawad claimed that the government was unnerved by the PTI’s announcement regarding a long march and, “acting in a hysteric manner”, falsely implicated him, former PM Imran, former interior minister Sheikh Rashid, former NA deputy speaker Qasim Suri, PTI leader Shahbaz Gill and others in cases.
The chief justice noted that the matter would be brought to the attention of NA Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, who was expected to ensure that the liberty of NA members was not “curtailed by the respondents without his approval nor that they are harassed in any manner due to the incident which had taken place in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia”.
Separately, the IHC restrained the authorities concerned from arresting Shahbaz Gill upon his return to Pakistan. The court issued the directives while hearing a writ petition filed by the politician seeking protective bail in the same case.
The petition stated that Gill had been falsely implicated in several FIRs to “harass, pressurise, blackmail and humiliate” him. The petition also stated that Gill was ready to appear before the court to prove his innocence, but was prevented from doing so, as the current government was bent upon arresting him at any cost.
When the IHC CJ took up the petition, Gill’s lawyer Advocate Faisal Chaudhry told the court that his client was in the US when the incident occurred. When Justice Minallah asked where Gill was, Chaudhry replied that the PTI leader had left for the US on April 28 and would return on May 4.
The lawyer further informed the court that 11 different cases had been registered against Gill and others in several cities, including Faisalabad, Attock, Jhelum, Burewala, Karachi, Jhang and Islamabad.
“[The petitioners] are being targeted for political revenge,” he argued. The hearing was adjourned till 10:30am on May 6 (Friday).
Meanwhile, Attock police obtained a two-day physical remand of Sheikh Rashid Shafiq, who was arrested in connection with the case on Sunday.
Police had produced the MNA, who is the nephew of Awami Muslim League (AML) chief and former interior minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, before a duty magistrate and obtained his physical remand. An FIR against Shafiq and other PTI leaders was filed at the New Airport Police Station on the complaint of Advocate Qazi Tariq.
Subsequently, the lawmaker was arrested at the Islamabad International Airport as he arrived from Saudi Arabia on Sunday.
Later, he was remanded in the custody of New Airport police for a day on the charges of posting a video on social media in which he was seen encouraging people who chanted slogans against Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his delegation inside the premises of Masjid-e-Nabwi (PBUH).



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