Pakistani Punjab police have arrested ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan and 150 others, including some members of his former cabinet, in connection with the hunt for Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his delegation at Masjid-e-Nabwi in Saudi Arabia, officials said.
Video clips circulating on social media showed pilgrims – apparently Khan supporters – shouting “chor” (thief) and “gaddar” (traitor) as soon as Sharif and other members of his delegation arrived at the Prophet’s mosque. in Medina last Thursday.
Pakistani pilgrims also used abusive language against members of the delegation. Madina police say they have arrested five Pakistanis involved in the slogans.
Punjab Police on Saturday evening registered an FIR against Khan, who is also Pakistan’s President Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and 150 others, including former federal ministers Fawad Chaudhry and Sheikh Rasheed, former adviser to Prime Minister Shahbaz Gul , former Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Qasim Soori and Khan’s close aides in London, Anil Musarrat and Sahibzada Jehangir, officials said.
The case was registered at a police station in Faisalabad, about 180 km from Lahore, on a complaint by local resident Naeem Bhatti of desecration of the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, hooliganism and hurting the feelings of Muslims, they said. .
FIR has been registered under different sections including 295 A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage the religious feelings of any class by insulting their religion or religious beliefs) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
According to the FIR, more than 100 Khan supporters were sent to Saudi Arabia from Pakistan and the UK to carry out the mission to target Sharif and his delegation at Masjid-e-Nabwi in Medina. Khan and other appointed PTI leaders had instructed party workers in this regard, he said.
Meanwhile, Faisalabad Police said action against those named in the FIR would be taken in accordance with the law.
Khan, in a TV interview on Saturday, distanced himself from the pilgrims who stalked and chanted against Sharif, saying he “couldn’t even imagine asking anyone to chant at the holy place”.
There was widespread condemnation of the incident. (With PTI entries)