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Federal cabinet divided over treason FIR against Sharif: sources

Prime Minister Imran Khan and other members of the cabinet adamant that the government not in favour of exacting political revenge on the opposition.

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This morning, The News International reported that Pakistan’s federal cabinet is divided over the issue of an FIR registered against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif blaming him for criminal conspiracy over his recent “provocative speeches” that were made from London.

According to sources, during a meeting of the federal cabinet on Tuesday, two federal ministers and a special assistant suggested that the FIR registered against Nawaz “should reach its logical conclusion”. However, Prime Minister Imran Khan and other members of the cabinet remained adamant that the government was not in favour of exacting political revenge on the opposition.

“The government is not involved with this FIR,” PM Imran Khan was quoted as saying during the meeting. The other ministers, according to sources, were of the opinion that the FIR against Nawaz should be dismissed.

Nawaz and others booked in criminal conspiracy case

The FIR registered against Nawaz on October 1 was lodged by a citizen, Badar Rasheed in the Shahdara Police Station’s jurisdiction. The case was registered under Section 10 (cyberterrorism) of the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act (2016), and sections 120-A (definition of criminal conspiracy), 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 121-A (conspiracy to wage war against Pakistan), 123-A (condemning the creation of the country and advocating the abolishment of its sovereignty), 124-A (sedition) and 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

Read more: Former Indian army officer Gaurav Arya comes to Nawaz Sharif’s aid in treason saga

The FIR also names party leaders Maryam Nawaz, Rana Sanaullah, Ahsan Iqbal, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Pervez Rashid, Marriyum Aurangzeb, Ataullah Tarar and others that participated in the PML-N’s Central Executive Committee and Central Working Committee meetings held last week.

The complainant states that Nawaz has several corruption cases against him that are currently under trial in the courts. “Instead of availing medical treatment in London, Nawaz is carrying out a planned conspiracy to defame the country and its institutions by making inflammatory speeches,” says the FIR.

The Federal Divide

The divide comes a day after Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry said that PM Imran was unaware of the case and that he had expressed “extreme displeasure” over it. “Prime Minister Imran Khan was unaware of any such [first information report] FIR when I informed him about it, he expressed extreme displeasure,” Fawad Chaudhry said in response to journalist Hamid Mir who had shared the copy of FIR.

“Filing treason cases is not our [PTI government’s] policy. These were the tactics [used during] Nawaz Sharif’s tenure,” he said. Meanwhile, responding to the case, information minister Shibli Faraz distanced PM Imran and his government from it, saying that someone related to the opposition may have done it.

“This FIR can be done by anyone. You can do it against me. I will say that someone [opposition] of theirs must have done it,” Faraz told the media in a press conference after the federal cabinet‘s meeting. The minister further said that PM Imran and his government should not be involved in the matter.

Read more: PM Imran displeased with treason FIR against Nawaz Sharif: Fawad Chaudhary

“The Punjab government will find out who did this and investigate it. This has nothing to do with us [federal government],” said Faraz. He added that PM Khan was neither “free” nor did he “go after FIR”s.

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