ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Wednesday directed to send the matter of cutting off ties with France over publication of blasphemous caricatures to the federal cabinet.

A single bench of IHC comprising Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani issued these directions after hearing two identical petitions seeking directions for Pakistani government to cut off its diplomatic relations with France.

The IHC bench observed that the federal cabinet should take a decision in this matter while keeping in view public sentiments and disposed of the petitions. Tariq Asad Advocate, the counsel for the petitioners, appeared before the court and contended that several Muslim countries, including Turkey and Qatar, had protested against the publication of the sketches in France. He added that the worst thing is that French President Emmanuel Macron asked for the sketches to be displayed on two buildings.

Justice Kayani remarked that the Pakistan government has already condemned the act, the French ambassador has been summoned to the Foreign Office and a resolution has been passed by the National Assembly. Later, he disposed of the petitions by referring the matter to the federal cabinet.

In this connection, Shohada Foundation of Pakistan through its Trustee Hafiz Ihtesham Ahmed and Salman Shahid filed the petitions through their counsel Tariq Asad Advocate.

The petitioner stated that the French satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo published several crude caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad which are blasphemous, defamatory, racist and based on Islamophobia which has provoked the Muslims around the world. He added that the Muslims condemned the French government.

He adopted that that Gérard Biard, the editor in chief of Charlie Hebdo newspaper who stood by its editorial choice, saying: “We are a newspaper that respects French law. Now, if there’s a law that is different in Kabul or Riyadh, we’re not going to bother ourselves with respecting it.”

Petitioner’s counsel contended that this is the darkest side of the incident that the government of France has also supported the evil gesture of Charlie Hebdo newspaper commenting that was in accordance with the fundamental right of speech and expression of the citizens of France. He further said that it is pertinent to mention that this is the first occasion that blasphemy has been committed on official level and the government failed to protect the sentiments and faith of the Muslims.

Therefore, he prayed to the court to issue directions to the government to call the Ambassador of France and warn him to ask his government to tender his apology and restrain the Charlie Hebdo newspaper and its editor from committing blasphemy again, meanwhile direct the respondents to call of the diplomatic relations with France.