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Pakistani pilgrims arrested for heckling, assaulting PM Shehbaz, delegation at Masjid-e-Nabwi

Viral video shows local security scuttling away ministers amid chants of "chor" (thieves)
Updated 29 Apr, 2022 05:20pm
<p>Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif at the Prophet’s (PBUH) Mosque. Photo via Twitter/hsharifain</p>

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif at the Prophet’s (PBUH) Mosque. Photo via Twitter/hsharifain

Saudi authorities have arrested some Pakistani pilgrims who accosted Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his delegation at the Masjid-i-Nabwi in Madina, the media director of the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Islamabad said on Friday.

The official said that the protesters have been taken into custody for "violating the regulations" and "disrespecting" the sanctity of the holy mosque.

PM Shehbaz Sharif and his delegation of federal ministers came under attack during their visit to Masjid-e-Nabwi on Thursday after being surrounded by a group of pilgrims from Pakistan who heckled them with chants of "thieves" and assaulted at least one lawmaker.

PM Shehbaz, who is in Saudi Arabia on the invitation of Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, is on his maiden international trip since assuming office.

Videos from the premier and his entourage's visit to Islam's second holiest site showed members of the delegation being whisked away by local law enforcement as slogans of "chor" (thieves) echoed in the Prophet's (PBUH) mosque.

In several videos, shared widely on social media, people can be seen attacking Jamhoori Watan Party's Shahzain Bugti, who was among those that abandoned the PTI-led government alliance to join the opposition prior to the no-confidence vote, resulting in Imran Khan's ouster.

In the video, pilgrims can be seen attacking Bugti, including grabbing his hair from behind.

Government spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb also came under attack during the visit which she blamed on Imran Khan without naming him.

"I will not name this person on this holy land because I do not want to use this land for politics," she said in a video message put up on PML-N's official Twitter account.

"We have advised our workers to control their emotions," she added.

The unfortunate incident was condemned by politicians from all parties as well as religious scholars.

Aseefa Bhutto Zardari, the younger sister of newly appointed Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, blamed the PTI for inciting "intolerance and divisiveness to satiate Imran Khan's "inflated ego", saying it was "leading Pakistan down a very dark path".

Prominent religious scholar Maulana Tariq Jameel tweeted that such an act was contrary to the teachings of Islam.

Former cricketer Shahid Afridi stated that bringing political differences to such a sacred place had not only violated its sanctity but also caused irreparable damage to Pakistan's image.

An unverified account in the name of PTI founding member Sahibzada Jahangir, who was in Madina at the time, also condemned the incident.

"No living Muslim should be subject to that in the Mosque of Prophet (PBUH). So shameful, so shameful, so shameful," he tweeted.

However, some on social media suggested that the PTI leader was among those responsible for instigating the attack, including journalist Yusra Askari.

Aaj Digital cannot verify the claim.

Initially, it was reported that dozens had been arrested in connection with the incident. However, no arrests have been made so far.

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, speaking at a press conference in Islamabad on Friday, requested the Saudi government to take action against those involved.

"Action will also be taken in Pakistan against those who are deported from Saudi Arabia in connection with this incident," he said.

PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry, addressing another press conference a little later, asserted that it wasn't a planned attack.

Meanwhile, he demanded action against Shahzain Bugti over an attack on Qasim Suri, the former deputy speaker of the National Assembly, who was attacked by unidentified men in Islamabad earlier today (Friday).

Fawad said the men were Bugti's guards who assaulted Suri in retaliation over the Masjid-e-Nabwi incident.

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Shehbaz Sharif

Saudi Arabia

imran khan

shahzain bugti

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