A district court in Attock on Monday approved a two-day physical remand of former interior minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed's nephew Rashid Shafiq.
Shafiq was taken into custody on Sunday at the Islamabad Airport when an FIR was lodged against him and former ruling party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders in Faisalabad over the recent incident of pilgrims surrounding Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif's delegation in Masjid-e-Nabwi and shouting slogans.
Shafiq and Sheikh, who also heads the Awami Muslim League (AML), were produced in the court earlier today as the police requested the court for physical remand of Rashid Shafiq.
Subsequently, the judicial magistrate granted a two-day physical remand of the accused.
According to reports, strict security arrangements were made outside the court as scores of PTI workers chanted slogans in favour of Sheikh Rashid.
Zulfi Bukhari, leader of the opposition in the Sindh Assembly, Haleem Adil Sheikh and other leaders were also present to express solidarity with the AML leader.
Bukhari claimed that religion was being used for political vendettas. The PTI leader accused Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah for “creating conspiracies”.
Read Imran distances himself from Masjid-e-Nabwi incident
Alongside Rashid Shafiq, the FIR included 150 people – PTI Chairman Imran Khan, Shahbaz Gill, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Fawad Chaudhry, Qasim Suri, Sahibzada Jahangir and Aneel Musarrat.
The charges were registered under sections 295, 295-A, 296, and 109 of the Pakistan Penal Code. The sections relate to harming a place of worship with intent to insult a religion, deliberate and malicious intent to outrage religious sentiment, disturbing religious assembly and abetment.
Complainant Muhammad Naeem, a resident of Faisalabad, claimed that the incident at the holy site, videos of which went viral, was a "planned out scheme and conspiracy".
Similar FIRs were registered in other cities of Punjab and police have started arresting PTI activists. A similar application has also been filed at Karachi’s Aziz Bhatti police station.
‘Foolish’ FIR against PTI leaders
PTI Chairman and deposed premier Imran Khan on Sunday condemned the registration of blasphemy cases against him and other leaders of his party, deeming the move as “foolish”. Addressing a news conference in Islamabad, the former prime minister claimed that the behaviour of the Pakistani pilgrims was a reaction to the “rage” felt by citizens over the new government.
The former premier maintained that the country’s leaders operated as a “mafia” that “bought loyalties” or resorted to pressing charges. “They [the coalition leaders] will be treated like this in any country that has Pakistanis,” he said. “We were offering our prayers at the time this incident took place. They should be ashamed of accusing us.”
Read Imran to issue whitepaper on ‘corruption of Sharif family’
The PTI chief also condemned the arrest of the former interior minter nephew earlier on Sunday at the Islamabad airport. Reacting to the news of the FIRs, former federal information minister Fawad Chaudhry tweeted: “Bring it on, we will fight it.” PTI leader Shahbaz Gill, who is among the top party leaders named in the FIRs, also took to his official Twitter handle, saying that the party was ready to fight the cases.