Pakistani pilgrims accost chant slogans against PM Shehbaz, federal ministers at Masjid-i-Nabwi.

A group of Pakistani pilgrims has accosted, heckled and chanted slogans at Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his entourage at the Masjid-i-Nabwi in Madina during their three-day visit — their first foreign trip since assuming office — to Saudi Arabia.

The premier along with his delegation arrived in Saudi Arabia yesterday at the invitation of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

He is accompanied by Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Miftah Ismail, Nawabzada Shahzain Bugti, Marriyum Aurangzeb, Khawaja Asif, Chaudhry Salik Hussain, Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Mohsin Dawar and Maulana Tahir Ashrafi, among others.

The officials landed in the country on Thursday afternoon and later offered prayers at the Prophet’s Mosque.

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However, unfortunate scenes were witnessed at the holy mosque yesterday when PM Shehbaz and his delegation arrived there. According to videos circulating on social media, Pakistani pilgrims at the mosque started chanting slogans of “chor” (thieves) as soon as they saw the prime minister.

In another video, the pilgrims could be seen heckling and raising abusive slogans against federal ministers Marriyum Aurangzeb and Shahzain Bugti, as the pair are escorted by Saudi guards.

Later, in a video message in response to the chants, Aurangzeb said this act was perpetrated by a “select group”, while most Pakistanis respected the sanctity of the holy mosque. “I don’t want to name the person responsible for this incident because I don’t want to use this holy land for political purposes.”

She also said she had prayed for guidance for such people. “However, it will take time for us to fix the ways in which these people have damaged our society and we can only do that through a positive attitude,” the minister added.

The events were condemned by Pakistan Ulema Council chairman Tahir Mahmood Ashrafi, who said Muslims were meant to bow their heads and lower their voices in Masjid-i-Nabwi instead of raising dirty slogans and hurling allegations on the 27th of Ramazan.

Meanwhile, politicians and other religious figures condemned the incident on Twitter and some blamed the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf.

Aseefa Bhutto-Zardari, sister of newly appointed Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, said that PTI was inciting “intolerance and divisiveness”.

Religious scholar Maulana Tariq Jameel also tweeted that the protest at the holy mosque wasn’t “acceptable in Islam”.

Finance Minister Miftah Ismail, on the other had, called the event a “new low” in Pakistani politics.

Centre, Sindh team up for security audit after KU blast

KARACHI: Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Wednesday sat together with the head of the provincial top security agencies and Chinese diplomats to conduct a security audit of the principal institutions in general and foreign nationals, especially Chinese, in particular.

Acting Chinese Ambassador Ms. Pang Chunxue and Consul General Mr. Li Bijian attended the meeting, held at CM House in the backdrop of the suicide attack on Chinese nationals at Karachi University (KU).

The interior minister, who had earlier held a one-to-one meeting with the chief minister, assured the Sindh government of full cooperation for security.

The meeting was given a detailed briefing. The Chinese diplomats were also apprised that the details of the Chinese nationals associated with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) were available to the relevant agencies but details of other Chinese nationals were not.

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China strongly condemns attack, seeks arrest of culprits

At a hurriedly called joint presser with CM Shah, Mr. Sanaullah later said the security of life and property of Chinese nationals would be ensured with effective measures, adding that China had always stood with Pakistan in difficult times. He said he had offered to enhance the security of the Chinese embassy, but the Chinese diplomats seemed to be satisfied with the arrangements.

“The security of those working with the CPEC will be ensured at all costs,” he declared.

Investigators did not rule out the involvement of a hostile foreign agency in the suicide bombing and believed sabotaging China-Pakistan relations was the motive for the attack, as a case was registered against the proscribed Baloch Liberation Army on murder and terrorism charges.

“Those who are fighting for people’s rights are not involved in terrorism,” he said referring to the coalition partners from Balochistan.

Responding to another question, he said people had rejected the narrative of former premier Imran Khan against the election commission and did not pay any heed to his calls that were also evident from the fact that out of the entire population of Punjab, only 2,345 people managed to come out for demonstrations.

Also, the federal minister along with the CM visited the home of the van driver, Khalid Nawaz, who died in the blast, in Gulshan-i-Maymar where he along with his wife and their seven children resided. They met the brothers of the late Nawaz, offered condolence and announced compensation of Rs2 million — Rs1 million each from the provincial and federal governments — for the legal heirs of the victim.

Meanwhile, China expressed its strong condemnation over the attack and extended deep condolences to the victims and sympathies to the injured and bereaved families, adds APP.

“The Chinese side expresses strong condemnation and indignation over this major terrorist attack and extends deep condolences to the victims and sympathies to the injured and bereaved families,” a spokesperson said on Wednesday.

The spokesperson said the Chinese foreign ministry and diplomatic missions in Pakistan had activated the emergency response mechanism immediately after the incident.

Meanwhile, BNP chief and MNA Sardar Akhtar Jan Mengal condemned the suicide attack and said that “systematic violence against civilians could not be justified under any circumstances”

Punjab Assembly session adjourned till May 16 without tabling of no-trust motion against Mazari

The much-anticipated session of the Punjab Assembly (PA) with a no-confidence motion — filed by PTI and PML-Q MPAs against Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari — on the agenda was adjourned till 11:30am on May 16 (Monday) without tabling of the resolution.

PA Speaker Chaudhry Parvez Elahi, who was supposed to convene the session, called off the sitting at around 11am, half an hour before it was supposed to begin.

“In exercise of the powers vested in me under rule 25(b) of the Rules of Procedure of the Provincial Assembly of Punjab, 1997, I, Parvez Elahi, Speaker, Provincial Assembly of Punjab, hereby order that the next sitting of the 40th Session of Punjab Assembly will now be held on Monday, 16th May 2022 at 11:30am in Assembly Chambers, Lahore, instead of Thursday, 28th April 2022 at 11:30am,” a notification, available with Dawn.com, issued by the speaker said.

The voting today was to be held through a secret ballot amid strict security arrangements. No MPA had been allowed to bring his/her mobile phone into the House. Women lawmakers had been barred from carrying their handbags on the floor, besides guests had also not been allowed to witness Thursday’s session.

On the other hand, PML-N parliamentary and PTI dissident lawmakers earlier held a joint meeting to chalk out a strategy for Thursday’s PA session. Of the 197 votes Hamza polled to become the CM, 26 were from the PTI’s dissidents belonging to the Tareen, Aleem and Asad Khokhar groups.

“The PML-N, PPP and PTI’s dissident lawmakers have decided to support Mazari to foil the resolution against him,” a PML-N MPA told Media after the meeting.

Security at the assembly ahead of today’s meeting was beefed up after the PA session on April 16 witnessed unprecedented violence allegedly leaving many injured, including Speaker Elahi and PTI MPA Asia Amjad. The House, however, ended up electing Hamza Shehbaz, leader of the opposition in the House and the son of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, as the chief minister amid a boycott by PTI and PML-Q lawmakers.

Mazari, who was allegedly roped in on his side by Hamza ahead of the election, had initiated the assembly proceedings from a guest lobby in the hall over a megaphone and read out the agenda and rules for the election of the chief minister. Police and anti-riot forces had taken positions inside the House, while women MPAs sat over the speaker’s dais and chanted slogans.

Elahi had claimed that all the powers delegated to the deputy speaker were void as soon as the Punjab Assembly session ended on April 16.

PA Secretary Muhammad Khan Bhatti said the deputy speaker called the deputy commissioner and the operations deputy inspector general of police, who summoned a heavy contingent of law enforcers despite the fact that only the sergeants-at-arms had the powers to step on the floor of the House.

“Mazari conducted the election process from the Officers’ Box with a megaphone, which was contrary to the assembly rules and procedures,” he maintained.

No trust submitted against Mazari

The no-trust motion against Mazari was submitted on April 7 by PTI MPAs Basharat Raja, Ahmad Khan, Sibtain Khan and Murad Raas under clause 7(c) of Article 53 of the Constitution read with Article 127 and under Rule 12 of the Rules of the Procedure of the Punjab Assembly.

The movement against him started during the Punjab CM elections during which Mazari was handed over the responsibilities of the speaker as Elahi was contesting in the elections.

On April 3, the deputy speaker had adjourned the voting for the chief minister for three days because of a ruckus between the opposition and government lawmakers inside the assembly. Later, he issued another notification, delaying the session further to April 16.

However, in a late night development on April 5, Mazari superseded his earlier order and summoned the assembly to meet at 7:30pm on April 6 — a development that was denied by a spokesperson for the provincial assembly and the PML-Q.

Mazari’s sudden change of heart to hold the session earlier than April 16 was termed the ‘handiwork’ of the PML-N leadership that allegedly wooed him through a ‘good offer’.

Subsequently, Elahi used his authority as the Punjab Assembly speaker and ordered “withdrawal of powers delegated to the deputy speaker in terms of Rule 25 of the Rules ibid with immediate effect”.

Shortly after, the PML-Q and PTI provincial lawmakers submitted a no-confidence motion against their own Deputy Speaker Mazari to snatch his powers to preside over a session and demanded his removal.

India says Tesla should not import cars from China for domestic sale

United States electric vehicle maker Tesla Inc is welcome to set up shop in India, make cars there for sale and export them, but must not import cars from China, India’s transport minister said on Tuesday.

“Making in China and selling here is not a good proposition,” the minister, Nitin Gadkari, said during a government conference.

Tesla is desperate to import and sell its electric vehicles in India, having lobbied officials in New Delhi for nearly a year to cut tariffs, which the company’s billionaire chief executive Elon Musk says are among the highest in the world.

But its efforts are at a stalemate as Tesla has not revealed a firm plan to invest in India, a step that would be in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” vision to boost local manufacturing and create jobs.

Last year, Tesla moved a step closer to its launch in India by registering a company in the country.

Tesla Motors India and Energy Private Limited was incorporated on January 8, 2021 with its registered office in the southern city of Bengaluru, a hub for several global technology companies.

The regulatory filing showed the Indian unit had three directors.

PTI stages country-wide protests outside ECP offices

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) members staged protests outside Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) offices in different cities on Tuesday, condemning the alleged biased conduct of Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja.

Television footage showed demonstrations were held in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, Gujrat and Faisalabad, among other cities.

Karachi

Police were deployed outside the ECP office in Karachi ahead of the protest and three mobile vans were also present at the site as part of security arrangements.

According to a statement issued by PTI spokesperson Saddam Kumbhar, Opposition Leader in the Sindh Assembly Haleem Adil Sheikh and other party leaders, including Firdous Shamim Naqvi, Bilal Ghaffar, Aftab Siddiqui, Raja Azhar, and Saifur Rehman, were among the demonstrators.

The statement said Sheikh addressed the protesters on the occasion, saying: “We are here to make the shameless feel some shame.”

Without naming anyone, he added, “You were the election commission. Since when did you become the corruption commission.”

The PTI leader called the present times “black days”, further dubbing the ECP the “patron of turncoats”.

Last night, the PTI had also taken out a bike rally in port city against the incumbent coalition government.

Sharing a video of the rally on social media, PTI leader and former human rights minister Shireen Mazari tweeted: “Motorbike rally in Karachi last night against imported govt brought in through [the] US regime change conspiracy aided by local abettors. Our Movement continues — the ppl have risen!”

Peshawar

PTI members stage a protest outside the ECP office in Peshawar on Tuesday. — Photo by Zahid Imad
PTI members stage a protest outside the ECP office in Peshawar on Tuesday. — Photo by Zahid Imad

On Tuesday, chaos was witnessed outside the ECP office in Peshawar as PTI members attempted to barge into the building. They were stopped by police deployed outside the ECP office’s gate.

PTI lawmakers from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, including Zahir Shah and Abdul Salam, were among the protesters, who raised slogans against the CEC, calling him biased.

They questioned as to why only the PTI’s funding was being investigated while other parties were not facing similar probes.

The protest ended in Peshawar around 1pm.