Imran terms protest in Madina as public reaction, march in May

ISLAMABAD: Former Prime Minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan distances himself from protest and sloganeering at Masjid-i-Nabwi in Madina Munawwarah and called it as spontaneous public reaction. He also said that

Former prime minister and PTI chairman Imran Khan has distanced himself from the pilgrims who hounded and chanted slogans against Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his delegation during their visit to Masjid-e-Nabwi on Thursday, saying he could “not even imagine” of asking anyone to carry out sloganeering at the sacred place.

Imran made the remarks in an interview with ARY News anchorperson Arshad Sharif, the full recording of which will be aired on the first day of Eidul Fitr.

“I have spoken about Islamophobia at every forum,” Imran is seen as saying in a snippet of the interview. “The reason for doing so is my belief that until you do not love Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him), your faith is not complete. I cannot think of asking anyone to do sloganeering at that sacred place. Nobody who loves the prophet (PBUH) can even think of it.”

PTI chairman Imran Khan

Video clips which went viral on social media later that night showed some of the pilgrims chanting slogans of chor (thieves) as soon as members of the official delegation arrived at the holy mosque.

Some protesters were seen chasing and trying to physically attack Bugti and Aurangzeb who were escorted by the guards and police officials. One of the protesters was seen pulling Bugti’s hair when he was being escorted to a safer place by the guards. In another video, even obscenities were hurled at Aurangzeb.

The media director of the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Islamabad confirmed yesterday that the protesters were taken into custody for “violating the regulations” and “disrespecting” the sanctity of the holy mosque.

In the interview, a short clip of which was aired by ARY News today, Imran distanced himself from the incident, saying that when the sloganeering took place, “all” PTI workers in Pakistan and abroad were observing shab-e-dua (night of prayer).

“What happened was because of their (new government’s) own actions — the way they ousted the [previous] government by becoming a part of a foreign conspiracy. The way an NRO 2 (National Reconciliation Ordinance) was given through that conspiracy [and] the most corrupt people were imposed on the country. “This is the public reaction,” he stated.

Pakistani nationals hounding and chanting slogans ‘thieves’ and other abusive words against Shehbaz Sharif and his delegation.

Imran said overseas Pakistanis had come out openly “like never before” in Europe, the United States and the United Kingdom in protest over the ouster of his government. “We are not asking them to come out,” he said, adding that the numbers were unprecedented.

The people were coming out because of their pain at what had happened and they were angry, he said.

The PTI chairman challenged the coalition government’s members to visit any public place, such as a cricket ground, saying, “they will not be able to show their face there.”

The PTI had taken out protest rallies across the country on April 10, a day after then-prime minister Imran lost a vote of no-confidence. Since then, the PTI chairman has addressed heavily attended rallies in several cities, including Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif praying in front of Roz-e-Mubarak in Madina on Thursday.

Earlier this week, Imran had said he wanted two million people to gather in Islamabad when he gives the call to his party’s supporters on a yet unspecified date.

Addressing a dua gathering held at his Bani Gala residence on the night of 27th of Ramazan, Imran had urged the nation to pray and work to make Pakistan Madina-like state and break the chains of slavery to get rid of the “puppets installed at the government in the wake of a foreign conspiracy”.

Islamabad march in last week of May

Imran Khan on Saturday announced a rough timeframe for his planned long march to Islamabad, issuing a call for the last week of May without mentioning the exact date.

He said the decision was taken in a meeting of the PTI’s core committee.

“This call is for all of Pakistan, and not just for the PTI,” Imran said in a video message released by the PTI.

He explained that the call was being given because the country was “insulted” and “the most corrupt people were placed atop the country via a foreign conspiracy.”

Imran lashed out at Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his cabinet, saying that the former was being referred to as “crime minister” and he had corruption cases against him while 60 per cent of the cabinet’s members were also out on bail.

“I want to give a message to all of Pakistan to start preparing from now. The start of our preparation will be chaand raat (eve of Eid) and I want to say specifically to the youth that you have to come out with flags and tell the whole world that the Pakistani nation is alive.”

He predicted that the march to Islamabad would be the “biggest” in Pakistan’s history and a “sea of people” would flood into the city and give the message that “never after this will any foreign country be able to place a corrupt group over us and Pakistan’s nation will make its own decisions.”

“My ministry will make a humble request to the Saudi government to take appropriate action on this matter. We are going to convey the pain the nation felt at these incidents in Masjid-i-Nabwi,” he said.

Imran had first spoken of his march to Islamabad last Saturday in his first press conference after his ouster via a successful vote of no confidence.

On Tuesday, he elaborated that the march’s purpose would be to give the US the message that Pakistan was a “free country” and urged his supporters to gather people from every village, street and locality and prepare them for the movement for “true freedom”.

“I want two million people to come to Islamabad when I give the call. I want all of you to go to the people and preach to them about our movement for true freedom,” Imran had said on Wednesday while an adoring crowd chanted slogans in support of the PTI chairman at a workers’ convention in Lahore.

Claims of conspiracy

Imran claims that his government was sent packing and PM Shehbaz’s regime was subsequently “imposed” on the country as part of a “conspiracy” hatched by the US against his insistence of having an independent foreign policy.

“This conspiracy started when the US decided to remove Imran Khan,” the PTI chairman had said on Tuesday. “Their secretary Donald Lu came to our US ambassador and threatened him that if Imran Khan wasn’t removed Pakistan would have to face difficulties. He also said that if Imran Khan was removed by the no-confidence vote, Pakistan would be forgiven.”

“They [US] knew that the corrupt mafia would seek forgiveness,” Imran had said, stating that the US knew “these dacoits had money abroad. Always remember, all those leaders who have money, palaces and businesses abroad can never stand up to the US. They will always remain slaves to the US.”

The ex-premier had also called out the Shehbaz government for “weakening” the institutions of the country such as the Federal Investigation Agency, the National Accountability Bureau and the Federal Board of Revenue.

Imran had subsequently reiterated that now was the time to take charge and told his workers to communicate his message to people in every corner of the country.

Pakistani pilgrims arrested in Madina

Police in Madinah have arrested at least five Pakistani nationals for “abusing and insulting” Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb and Minister for Narcotics Control Shahzain Bugti at the Prophet’s Mosque in the city.

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 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.”

On Thursday some protesters, allegedly belonging to the PTI party of ousted prime minister Imran Khan, were loudly chanting slogans against Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and members of his delegation.

Videos have emerged online of people aiming chants at the Pakistani delegation while visiting the Prophet’s Mosque on Thursday.

The director of information at the Saudi Arabia embassy in Islamabad confirmed some Pakistani nationals were arrested for violating the sanctity of the Masjid-e-Nabawi and an investigation had been launched into the matter, according to local media.

The official further added that the individuals were arrested after they violated the rules of the mosque.