Imran Khan’s stunts may cost Pakistan foreign remittances

An incident took place at the Masjid-e-Nabvi in Saudi Arabia on April 28. It happened while a high-level Pakistani government delegation led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif was paying respects to Prophet Muhammed during Roza-e-Rasool. They were heckled and harassed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) supporters in Medina. The tomb of the Prophet shares the premises with the Masjid-e-Nabvi.

Information Minister Maryam Aurangzeb was saved from physical attack only when a Baloch politician Shah Zain Bugti along with local security personal guarded her. It was then that someone from the crowd pulled Bugti’s hair before disappearing in the crowd.

The incident has sent shock waves in Pakistan as well as among the Muslim community across the globe. The tomb of Muhammed has a verse of Quran inscribed at the entrance door. It reads:

“O believers! Do not raise your voices higher than the voice of this Conveyor of the unseen (Prophet Muhammed), and nor speak aloud in his august court just like you speak aloud to one another amongst yourselves. In case your deeds go to waste whilst you are unaware. {Kanz-ul-Iman translation of Quran Part 26, Surah Hujurat Ayah 2.”

It is therefore considered a grave sin to speak in a loud voice or shout while in attendance at the sacred premises. By shouting chor, chor, (thieves, thieves) at the guests of the Royal Kingdom it has not only violated the sanctity of the holy place but is also viewed as an insult to the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Muhammed Bin Salman.

With the help of CCTV cameras some of the hooligans were identified and apprehended by the Medina police on April 29. Unconfirmed reports claim that at least 150 Pakistani pilgrims had been arrested and awarded a total of five years’ imprisonment each, a fine of 60,000 dirhams, deportation after the completion of their sentence and a life time ban on their travel to Saudi Arabia.

Former Home Minister Sheikh Rashid’s nephew was arrested as soon as he returned to Pakistan and remains in police custody and blasphemy cases have also been registered against former the former premier, Fawad Chaudhary, Shahbaz Gill, Qasim Suri, Sahibzada Jahangir, Aneel Musarat and Sheikh Rashid for inciting violence.

It is common knowledge that PTI activists were specially flown to Medina to conduct the act. One day before the departure of the Pakistani delegation Rashid boasted at a press conference that the delegation will be harassed by the public in Medina! It is therefore understood that it was all pre planned.

On his return from Umra, eminent Kashmiri scholar and author Shabbir Chaudhary told this writer that normally in and around Masjid-e-Nabvi one could find labourers from Pakistan and of Pakistani occupied Jammu and Kashmir origin working on the premises.

However, this time they he could hardly find any. Most of them had been replaced by Muslims from countries such as Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Nepal.

This is what Shabbir Chaudhary had already predicted in his book on CPEC titled “Is CPEC Economic Corridor or a Strategic Game Plan?” (2017), in which he had mentioned that over the years Middle Eastern countries will switch their labour force that belong to Pakistan to other South Asian countries.

Shabbir Chaudhary was of the opinion that CPEC was a strategic defence plan that would upset several Middle Eastern countries as Chinses Navy would sit at their door step at the Gwadar deep sea port. This, Shabbir Chaudhary anticipated, would be unacceptable to many neighbouring countries. Hence, to punish Pakistan the Middle Eastern countries would hit Pakistan financially. The main source of remittances received by Pakistan is from the Middle East.

Shabbir Chaudhary was of the opinion that once that happens, and hundreds of thousands of Pakistani expat labour returns home, it will create a massive social and economic crisis leading to serious political unrest.

Well, unfortunately that opportunity has been made available now by none other than the former premier himself. The Saudi government was about to announce a ban on Pakistanis who come for Umra. It was only after Prime minister Shehbaz Sharif pleaded with the Saudi Crown Prince to reconsider his pending decision and not punish the whole nation for the wrong of a few culprits.

For now, the immediate threat of Pakistani labour being expelled from Saudi Arabia might seem to have averted but this scribe is of the opinion that any future hiring of Pakistani labour for the Holy Land of Muslims is now a big question mark.

Imran Khan who was brought into power by the deep state, under the slogan of economic revival for a desperate economy, is now proving to have become yet another factor in the downfall of the economy of Pakistan as in the coming months and years more than one billion dollars of foreign remittances from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and wide Middle East face a sharp decline.

(Dr Amjad Ayub Mirza is an author and a human rights activist from Mirpur in PoJK. He currently lives in exile in the UK.)




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