The Punjab police clarified late on Monday that the sedition case against convicted former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was registered at the behest of a private citizen and not the state.
According to a press release issued by the Lahore Capital City Police, “Various speculations were being made in the media regarding the case”. “In fact, the case was registered on the request of a citizen, Badar Rasheed, on which Shahdara police registered a case under the applicate section of the law,” the notification maintained.
The FIR – registered at Lahore’s Shahdara police station by a citizen, Badar Rasheed – states that Sharif has “conspired against the state and its institutions” by making “provocative speeches” from London.
The communiqué added that the case would be investigated on merit keeping in view all legal aspects. Action would be taken only against the person(s) whom the authorities find substantial evidence against.
“Dispensation of justice would be ensured at any cost,” the press release added.
The FIR included Section 120-A (criminal conspiracy), 121-A (waging or attempting to wage war or abetting waging of war against Pakistan) and 123-A (condemnation of the creation of the state, and advocacy of abolition of its sovereignty) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).
It also included the PPC’s Section 124-(assaulting president, governor etc with intention to compel or restrain the exercise of any lawful power), Section 124-A (sedition), Section 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot), Section 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups) and Section 505 (statements conducing to public mischief).
The FIR also invoked Section 10 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (Peca) 2016.
On October 5, hours after the registration of a sedition case against PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and his top aides, a senior member of the federal cabinet claimed that Prime Minister Imran Khan was “displeased” with the move.
Sharif, who is in the British capital for treatment of his undiagnosed illness, has been declared a “proclaimed offender” after his refusal to return to Pakistan to serve out a seven-year jail-term handed down to him by a court following his conviction in a graft case.
While speaking via video-link at a recent multiparty opposition confab, Sharif heaped criticism on the security establishment, saying his struggle was not against Premier Imran but against “those who brought him to power”. Sharif struck a more defiant note in a subsequent speech at a party meeting.
The government ministers have since accused Sharif of promoting “India’s narrative” against Pakistan’s state institutions. Some went a step further saying that the PML-N supremo was in cohorts with Indian PM Narendra Modi.
However, Science and Technology Minister Fawad Chaudhry claimed in a Twitter post that Prime Minister Imran was not aware of the registration of the sedition case against Sharif and other PML-N leaders.
“The prime minister was not aware when I brought into his notice that an FIR has been registered [in Lahore] in which Nawaz Sharif and others have been nominated,” Fawad wrote on the popular microblogging site.
“He [Imran Khan] expressed strong displeasure. Let’s see what happens,” he added. The minister further said that it is not the policy of the PTI to file sedition cases as it is a political party. He called it a Sharif-era tactic.