Pakistan’s Punjab police have booked ousted prime minister Imran Khan and 150 others, including some members of his former cabinet, in connection with the hounding of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his delegation at Masjid-e-Nabwi in Saudi Arabia, officials said.
Video clips circulating on social media showed some pilgrims – apparently supporters of Khan – shouting ‘chor’ (thief) and ‘gaddar’ (traitor) as soon as Sharif and other members of his delegation arrived at the Prophet’s Mosque in Madina last Thursday.
The Pakistani pilgrims also used abusive language against the delegation members. Madina police claim to have arrested five Pakistanis involved in the sloganeering.
Punjab police on Saturday night registered an FIR against Khan, who is also the chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and 150 others, including former federal ministers Fawad Chaudhry and Sheikh Rasheed, former adviser to the 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 has been registered in a police station in Faisalabad, around 180 km from Lahore, on the complaint of local resident Naeem Bhatti on the charges of desecration of the Prophet’s mosque in Madina, hooliganism and hurting the sentiments of Muslims, they said.
The FIR has been registered under different sections, including 295 A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
According to the FIR, over 100 supporters of Khan were sent to Saudi Arabia from Pakistan and the UK to carry out the mission of targeting Sharif and his delegation at Masjid-e-Nabwi in Madina. Khan and other nominated leaders of the PTI had given directions to party workers in this regard, it said.
Meanwhile, Faisalabad police said action against those named in the FIR would be taken in accordance with law.
Khan in a TV interview on Saturday had distanced himself from the pilgrims who hounded and chanted slogans against Sharif, saying he could “not even imagine of asking anyone to carry out sloganeering at the sacred place.”
There has been widespread condemnation of the incident.