ISLAMABAD: A member of the PTI Core Committee and former human rights minister Shireen Mazari has written letters to the United Nations (UN) officials and high commissioner for human rights, informing them about the alleged press censorship in Pakistan and filing of politically motivated blasphemy cases against chairman Imran Khan and other PTI leaders.

Through the letters, copies of which are available with Dawn, Ms Mazari urged the UN officials to “take urgent notice of the issues raised as they not only threaten democracy in Pakistan but also the lives of former prime minister Imran Khan and his party’s senior leadership as well as his party members and intervene on these issues with the Pakistan government”.

She has sent the letters to High Commissioner for Human Rights in Switzerland Michelle Bachlet and the UN special rapporteurs on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of religion or belief and extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions in pursuant to various resolutions adopted by the Human Rights Council.

“Pakistan has been engulfed in a political crisis in the aftermath of a regime change scheme to remove the government of PM Imran Khan and replace it with a combined opposition government led by a politician who is involved in multiple money laundering cases and is out on bail,” Ms Mazari said in her letters.

PTI’s move termed an attempt to invite foreign intervention in internal affairs; Sheikh Rashid’s nephew sent to jail on judicial remand over Madina incident

Mentioning the controversial diplomatic cable sent to the previous PTI government by Pakistan’s former ambassador in Washington, she wrote that “there had been a US-backed regime change conspiracy assisted by the establishment and the opposition parties”.

She also complained about the judiciary’s role in the ouster of the PTI government through a successful vote of no-confidence (VNC) resolution.

“When the deputy speaker chairing the NA session stated he rejected the VNC until such time as an investigation was done into the cipher and who all were possibly involved in the conspiracy, the Supreme Court of Pakistan intervened and, against all norms of parliamentary supremacy, gave an order on which date and what time the speaker must call the NA session for the vote. Things descended into utter chaos but eventually the vote was held and the Khan-led government voted out,” read the letter.

Since then, she wrote, there had been a groundswell of public anger reflected in huge rallies by the PTI across the country as Imran Khan led a movement for the restoration of democracy and sovereignty of Pakistan.

“The government, backed by the establishment, has responded with repressive measures,” she said, alleging that the new government was committing human rights violations “with the active support of the establishment”.

‘Foreign intervention in Islamic affairs’

The ruling PML-N and Muttahida Ulema Board Punjab chairman Hafiz Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi lashed out at Ms Mazari for writing letters to the UN officials and termed it an attempt to invite foreign intervention in the national and Islamic affairs of the country.

Hafiz Ashrafi, while speaking at a news conference in Lahore, said that writing a letter against the blasphemy law to the UN was an attempt to invite foreign intervention in the national and Islamic affairs of the country.

According to state-run APP, Mr Ashrafi said the campaign against the sacred law at the international level was not acceptable at any cost. He urged Imran Khan to ask his party leader to surrender this letter from the UN.

PML-N leader and Minister of State for Energy Musadik Malik said that on the one hand, the PTI leaders were alleging that its government had been ousted through a foreign conspiracy and, on the other, they were appealing the UN to save them. He alleged that the letters had been written to make political gains.

MNA sent to jail

PTI MNA from Rawalpindi Sheikh Rashid Shafique, who had been arrested in connection with the Masjid-i-Nabwi incident, was sent to Attock jail on a judicial remand on Wednesday.

Mr Shafique, who is the nephew of former interior minister Sheikh Rashid, had been arrested by police upon his return from Saudi Arabia on May 1. He remained in police captivity for three days on physical remand on the plea of police that they wanted to recover his mobile phone through which he had allegedly uploaded the controversial video in which he had praised those Pakistani pilgrims who raised slogans and manhandled some members of the official delegation of PM Sharif during their visit to Masjid-i-Nabwi in Madina.

During the hearing before duty magistrate Muhammad Zeeshan, the counsel for police had sought another three-day demand of the MNA, but the court directed police to produce the IMEI number of the cellphone which was used to upload the video. However, police failed to produce the number and subsequently the duty magistrate sent the MNA to Attock jail on a 14-day judicial remand.

Amjad Iqbal from Taxila also contributed to this story

Published in Dawn, May 6th, 2022

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