During PM Shehbaz Sharif’s visit to Masjid-e-Nabwi, some Pakistani pilgrims in the courtyard outside the mosque shouted slogans of “Chor, Chor” (thieves) against the PM’s delegation that consisted, amongst others, Information Minister Maryam Aurangzeb and Baloch leader, Shahzain Bugti. A miscreant also pulled Shahzain Bugti’s hair.
According to Arab News, Police in Madinah has arrested at least five Pakistani nationals for “abusing and insulting” Information Minister Mariyam Aurangzeb and Minister for Narcotics Control Shahzain Bugti at the Prophet’s Mosque in the city. Arab News story adds that “arrests were also made for insulting and abusing a woman and her companions of Pakistani nationality, also in the courtyard of the Prophet’s Mosque.”
The spokesperson for the Madinah Police – according to Arab News – said the suspects were “referred to the competent authorities after legal procedures were completed against them.” He continued: “Their actions contradict the sanctity of the place and impact the safety of visitors and worshipers.”
Everyone in Pakistan agreed that the incident in Madinah was very unpleasant and did not show Pakistan in good light, and reflected the deep polarization of Pakistani politics, which is finding expression even in Islam’s holiest places. However, the kind of dangerous politics PMLN lead government built on it was even more disturbing. They immediately declared – without any investigation – that this incident was planned by former PM Imran Khan and his associates. FIRs under Sec. 295-A were registered, in a Punjabi city, Faisalabad, against Imran Khan and 150 members of his party.
Some pilgrims returning from Saudi Arabia- including one PTI MNA – were arrested at the airport. Ministers of Law and Interior did a press conference defending the FIRs against their political opponents for the sacrilege of holy places. This is the first time in the religiously conflicted history of Pakistan that a government defended using blasphemy laws against its political opponents. This reflected that the current government is desperate to use whatever it can in its political fight against the former PM. FIRs – even against British citizens in London – and arrests, in Pakistan, without any formal investigation, for actions committed in a foreign country in the name of religion also brought out another disturbing aspect of Pakistan’s troubled polity.
A country where legal institutions inspire no public trust is trying to impose an “Extra-territorial Jurisdictions” on actions committed beyond its geography. This sends a troubling message to all those Pakistani dual citizens across North America and Europe who also hold Pakistani Passports.