Sloganeering against Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif in Saudi Arabia; police book Imran Khan, 150 others under blasphemy laws

Case registered at Faisalabad police station, around 180 km from Lahore

Sloganeering against Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif in Saudi Arabia; police book Imran Khan, 150 others under blasphemy laws

Ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan. Reuters file

PTI

Lahore, May 1

A case under stringent blasphemy laws was registered against Pakistan’s ousted premier Imran Khan and 150 others, including some members of his former cabinet, in connection with the hounding of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his delegation at Masjid-e-Nabwi in Saudi Arabia, officials said.

Video clips circulating on social media showed some pilgrims - apparently supporters of Khan – shouting ‘chor’ (thief) and ‘gaddar’ (traitor) as soon as Sharif and other members of his delegation arrived at the Prophet’s Mosque in Madina last Thursday.

The Pakistani pilgrims also used abusive language against the delegation members. Madina police claim to have arrested five Pakistanis involved in the sloganeering.

Punjab police on Saturday night registered an FIR against Khan, who is also the chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and 150 others, including former federal ministers Fawad Chaudhry and Sheikh Rasheed, former adviser to the prime minister Shahbaz Gul, former deputy speaker of the National Assembly Qasim Suri, and Khan’s close aides in London, Anil Musarrat and Sahibzada Jehangir, officials said.

The case has been registered in a police station in Faisalabad, around 180 km from Lahore, on the complaint of local resident Naeem Bhatti on the charges of desecration of the Prophet’s mosque in Madina, hooliganism and hurting the sentiments of Muslims, they said.

The FIR has been registered under different sections, including 295 A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

According to the FIR, over 100 supporters of Khan were sent to Saudi Arabia from Pakistan and the UK to carry out the mission of targeting Sharif and his delegation at Masjid-e-Nabwi in Madina. Khan and other nominated leaders of the PTI had given directions to party workers in this regard, it said.

Faisalabad police said action against those named in the FIR would be taken in accordance with law.

Khan in a TV interview on Saturday had distanced himself from the pilgrims who hounded and chanted slogans against Sharif, saying he could “not even imagine of asking anyone to carry out sloganeering at the sacred place.” There has been widespread condemnation of the incident.

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah has said that former Prime Minister Khan will be arrested for allegedly ordering hooliganism and sloganeering against Prime Minister Sharif and his delegation within the premises of Masjid-e-Nabawi (PBUH).

“They will not be forgiven at all for what they did. Imran Khan will be arrested definitely,” Sanaullah was quoted as saying by The News.

Sanaullah said that the hooliganism at the holy mosque was pre-planned and people had been provoked to take part in it.

“This man (Imran Khan) is bent on misleading the new generation,” he said.

Sanaullah said that the Saudi government has decided to take action against the people involved in the incident, adding that some people will be deported from the Kingdom.

Meanwhile, former federal minister Sheikh Rashid’s nephew Sheikh Rashid Shafiq was arrested at the Islamabad airport upon his arrival from Saudi Arabia in the wee hours of Sunday.

The arrest was made in connection with the incident of slogan chanting at Masjid-e-Nabawi against Prime Minister Sharif, the paper said.

Sources affiliated with the airport staff said that Shafiq travelled to Pakistan through a private airline.

Rashid confirmed his nephew’s arrest, saying that he had just landed in Pakistan after performing Umrah when he was arrested.

“None of us were in Saudi Arabia, but cases were still registered [against us]. Residences are being raided after the registration of the cases,” Rashid said, condemning the arrest.

Citing sources, the paper said that Shafiq has been shifted to a Federal Investigation Agency cell.

On the night following the incident, Shafiq had posted a video from the holy site, supporting the hooliganism. PTI

 

Tribune Shorts


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