Ahsan Iqbal heckled
at Islamabad restaurant,
family apologises for
raising bad slogan

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ISLAMABAD: In Pakistan the heckling by people against the ministers has become a routine and people present there enjoy it. The victim ministers feel embarrassment and choose better option to leave from there without making harsh comments or reaction.

A similar incident was happened with Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal in Islamabad where he went to a restaurant but faced very embarrassing situation and people present there raised slogans of ‘chor, chor’ (thief, thief). Another incident likewise was happened with Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah in Islamabad.

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal (L-3) meets the family who heckled him at a restaurant earlier this week. (Photo courtesy Ahsan Iqbal Twitter)

But Ahsan Iqbal said on Sunday that PTI supporters, who had heckled him at a restaurant in Sargodha’s Bhera earlier this week, had come to meet him and apologised for their actions.

Iqbal was jeered at and heckled by PTI supporters at the restaurant on Friday night. Viral videos of the incident circulating online showed women and teenagers chanting anti-government slogans and hurling abuses at the minister, loudly calling him “chor”.

In a press conference the next day, Iqbal said he would not seek criminal charges against the supporters. He said he had left the matter in the “people’s court” but lamented the “culture of hatred” that he said was introduced by PTI Chairman Imran Khan.

In a tweet, the minister shared that the family involved in the incident had expressed remorse and shame over their actions and apologised to him.

“I had already announced to forgo legal action against them. We are all Pakistanis and [should] not convert the right to disagree into hate. We have to maintain mutual respect,” Iqbal tweeted.

Ahsan Iqbal in Macdonald Bhera Interchange

A day earlier, Iqbal said that the incident did not affect his popularity but highlighted the culture Imran was teaching his followers.

Iqbal stressed that the “disease of polarisation and hatred” in society was hollowing out Pakistan like “cancer”. “I say this with disappointment that we expected Imran Niazi, who was a sportsman, to teach his supporters sportsmanship in the country’s politics.

“But he did the opposite. His politics just spread hatred in society. This poison is spreading so rapidly that if we don’t counter it, the society will be steps away from anarchy and civil war — like Libya,” he warned.

Addressing PTI supporters, he urged them to carefully consider if their leader was as sincere to them as they were to him. “Imran Niazi has a track record of using people and throwing them away like tissue paper,” he claimed.

Iqbal requested people to think if “you want your children to become victims of this hatred or want to pull them out of it”.

Meanwhile, PTI leaders negated Iqbal’s claims regarding the PTI chairman. Former information minister Fawad Chaudhry suggested that the PML-N leader should “wear a burqa” and go out in public.

He also said that PML-N leaders were unaware of the ground realities. “People are against you because you came to power by stealing their political mandate. Social stability is possible only with political stability in the country,” Chaudhry added, demanding immediate elections.

On the other hand, senior PTI leader Shireen Mazari, in response to a tweet by a journalist condemning the incident, said that ordinary citizens were fed up and angry.

Former special assistant to the prime minister Shahbaz Gill, in a rebuttal to Iqbal, said that protesting and raising their voice against something wrong was every citizen’s right. “The law doesn’t give you the permission to physically attack someone but there is nothing wrong in expressing your views. That is your right as per the law.”

The former federal minister said that a thief would be called a thief. “If you don’t like the word, suggest a better word for chor, we would call you that.”