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Dire consequences of mixing religion & politics

Our leaders who rant and rave while carelessly mixing religion and politics have successfully demeaned both, leaving no difference between them for their followers - writes Kanwar Dilshad, ex-Secretary of ECP.

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The shameful sciences witnessed on 28th April evening at the Masjid-e-Nabvi, one of the holiest sites for Muslims, would have been deeply upsetting to observers of the faith whose reverence for religious traditions is more than skin deep.

As newly inducted Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his entourage of Federal Ministers made a pilgrimage to the mosque, they were accosted by a small crowd of uncouth pilgrims, believed to be of Pakistani origin, which heckled and harassed them with chants of ‘choor, choor‘[thieves, thieves].

Videos of the deplorable incident, circulating widely on social media, show that some miscreants even tried to physically assault some members of the visiting group. That this shocking display of boorish behaviour happened within the confines of a sanctified place, with utter disregard for the last resting place of the most revered icon of Islam, goes to show how far we have corrupted social etiquette and our science of propriety.

Read more: Marriyum Aurangzeb responds to Masjid-e-Nabvi incident

Action by the Saudi Kingdom against Pakistani pilgrims over sloganeering and physically attacking some members of the visiting delegation under Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif at Masjid-e-Nabvi in Madina and the widespread condemnation of the incident put the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on the defensive as the party disowned the arrested culprits.

Following the arrest of the pilgrims who raised slogans and chassed members of the official Pakistani delegation, during their visit to the holy mosque, the Pakistan government announced that it has been decided to formally ask the Saudi government to take appropriate legal action against those involved in the unruly incident and also share the information about these people so that separate action could also be taken against them in the country.

Did our leaders fail us?

It’s a welcome gesture that a spoke person for the Saudi embassy in Islamabad confirmed that authorities in the Kingdom have arrested some of the trouble makers who had harassed, taunted, and assaulted ministers at the holy mosque.

Regarding the arrest of Pakistanis, “yes this is true”, confirmed the embassy spoke person in response to a query. Without giving the numbers or providing details, the official said that the protesters had been taken into custody for violating regulations and disrespecting the sanctity of the holy mosque.

Our leaders who rant and rave while carelessly mixing religion and politics have successfully demeaned both, leaving no difference between them for their followers. As a result, we are now seeing even houses of worship and spiritual contemplation being used to attack and humiliate political targets.

Read more: Imran Khan opens up on heckling of govt delegation at Masjid-e-Nabvi

Though other political figures, including those from the PMLN, are also to blame for cheering on such incidents in the past, the PTI must take responsibility for this recent incident because of the spiteful rhetoric it has been encouraging against its political rivals for some years now. Not only that, instead of roundly condemning the loutish behaviour on display, its leaders, even if they do issue half-hearted condemnations, seem to be acting as apologists for it by describing it as the public expression of anger against the new government.

Council of Islamic ideology chairman Dr. Qibla Ayaz has chided the incident of hooliganism at Masjid-e-Nabvi saying it was clear disrespect to the holy site. It is a shame for us as a nation to take out differences to such an extent that the sanctity of the second most respected place after Kaaba has not even taken into account.

However, after seeing a severe reaction from almost all the sides over the incident and following widespread condemnation, a number of PTI leaders expressed their regret over the incident and advised the people to maintain the sanctity of the holy places.

Kanwar Dilshad is a former Secretary, Election Commission of Pakistan, Islamabad. He is the Founder and Chairman of the National Democratic Foundation. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.

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