Saudi Embassy confirms action
THE shameful scenes witnessed on 28th April evening at the Masjid-e-Nabvi, one of Islamic holiest sites, would have been deeply upsetting to observer’s 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.
Videos of the deplorable incident, circulating widely on social media, show that some miscreants even tried to physically assault some members of 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.
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 wide spread condemnation of the incident put the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf 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 holly mosque, the Pakistan government announced that it has been decided to formally ask 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.
It’s 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 spokesperson 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 humiliation political targets.
Though other political figures, including those from the PML-N, 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.
The Chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology, Dr Qibla Ayaz, has chided the incident of hooliganism at Masjid-e-Nabvi adding it was clear disrespect to the holy site.
It is 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 a wide spread condemnation, a number of PTI leaders expressed their regret over the incident and advised the people to maintain sanctity of the holy places.
—The writer is former Secretary Election Commission of Pakistan and currently Chairman National Democratic Foundation.