Police barred from booking PTI leaders on blasphemy charges.

ISLAMABAD -- The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday directed the Islamabad police not to register blasphemy cases against the leadership of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) over the Masjid-e-Nabwi incident wherein 'unknown individuals' harassed the members of the federal government.

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 Chairman Imran Khan, alleging blasphemy. The PTI had approached the IHC against the FIRs to seek relief.

During the 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 but the law minister is a 'literate' person,' he said, adding that the use of religion for political gains was condemnable.

CJ Athar Minallah asked whether the PTI leader trusted the bench. 'We do trust you...who else can we trust if not this court,' he added. Justice Minallah said the use of religion in politics was not right and termed the cases against PTI a serious violation of fundamental rights.

He said the blasphemy allegations resulted in the murder of Mashal Khan and Sri Lankan national Priyantha Kumara in Sialkot among others. Political parties should promote a culture of tolerance, he said, adding, 'In the hindsight, the cases registered in this context are not right.'

Faisal Chaudhry, the counsel for the PTI, requested the court to examine the report of the Islamabad police. "As per this report, investigations were underway over four complaints but no cases have been registered so far,' he added. This is the job of the state, CJ Minallah responded.

The IHC CJ said the FIR copy available with the court doesn't even have the 'required ingredients' to register the case. The religious feelings of the people should be respected but the state also has some duties, he said, adding that this court had dismissed a similar petition recently.

The use of blasphemy laws for political mileage was a 'blasphemous act in itself', Justice Minallah said, adding that in the past the state has remained involved in similar practices. 'What is the stance of the federal government on the issue,' the IHC CJ asked. 'There are...

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