The decision to register a case under blasphemy laws against PTI Chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan and other top figures of the previous government, under Section 295, and other provisions of the Pakistan Penal Code could, like all allegations of religious nature, have snowballed into a political crisis beyond the magnitude of what the parliament can handle. Fortunately, one branch of government had the sense to roll back the action before too much damage.
The Islamabad High Court has issued a five-page verdict setting aside the blasphemy cases against PTI leaders with the IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah writing 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.
This is a much welcome decision and a balanced one at that. It does not outrightly reject the government’s grievances which are legitimate; it is unacceptable that some miscreants, in the name of political allegiance, hurled insults and demonstrated derogatory behaviour close to a religious site. However, the solution, of filing blasphemy cases, was an utterly disastrous idea that if given the go-ahead would have set a debilitating precedent of using the blasphemy law, which already is so widely misused, to play politics. It is hoped that the government, and indeed all political parties, learn from this incident and refrain from mixing political disputes and rivalries with sensitive realms that have the potential of inflicting irreversible damage on the country’s psyche.
Moreover, the PTI too, after being given this relief, needs to reflect on this incident. This is by no means a victory for PTI; that some alleged political workers carried out reprehensible behaviour in the party’s name should be a wake up moment for the party. This is setting the precedent for such abuse to be hurled at all politicians from any party. All parties need to reflect on their political rhetoric and confrontational behaviour for that language is clearly seeping into the norms of our society