LAHORE: A day after his day-long detention and subsequent bail for “violating the sanctity” of the mausoleum of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah in Karachi, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Captain (r) Safdar Awan on Tuesday announced to visit the building every year on October 18 to raise the slogan “long live the mother of the nation”.
Karachi police arrested Safdar, also the husband of PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz, on Monday for chanting political slogans inside the mausoleum — something which is prohibited by regulations governing the building and is punishable by “imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or a fine, or both”.
After a daylong episode, with several turns and twists, a court granted bail to him.
Addressing a press conference in Lahore today, Safdar said he wanted to send a message to those that had called Fatima Jinnah a traitor by raising Madar-e-Millat (mother of the nation) slogans.
“What was wrong with that,” he asked.
Fatima Jinnah, who passed away in 1967, is buried beside her brother at his mausoleum.
Safdar said his conduct at the mausoleum was “similar to that of a child seeking solace in the comfort provided by his parents”.
“When children are in pain, they go to their mother and father. When they are attacked in the streets, children go to their mother and tell her [about the incident]. I also went to the mother of the nation [and] said to her that the ones who stole your elections, the same people have stolen ours.”
“If appealing to your mother is a crime then we will continue to do this. If saying zindabad to your mother is a crime then we will continue to do so.”
Lashing out at the government, he said: “You incompetent fools, will you teach me how to visit a shrine? People learn this kind of etiquette from us,” he said, adding that his family has a long history of being caretakers of various shrines.
“A state above the state filed an FIR [First Information Report] against me and [struck] during the cover provided by the night.” The PML-N leader said that he was not worried when the police broke down his door.
“I said that my family is inside, I am coming. I am performing ablution [as] it time for prayers, give me ten minutes,” Safdar said, adding that he was ready to go through the ordeal as Nawaz’s message of respecting the sanctity of the vote was “loud and clear”.
“[But] I am concerned about where the inspector general of a province disappeared to for three hours,” he said, asking who were the people behind this FIR.
He stated that FIRs and other obstacles would not be able to stop the “honour the vote” movement.
Karachi police booked Maryam, Safdar and 200 others on Monday night for violating the sanctity of the mausoleum. The complainant, Waqas Ahmed, had alleged that the PML-N leaders, along with 200 of their followers, reached Jinnah’s grave where Safdar jumped over the grill surrounding it.
He said he tried to stop him from doing so but Safdar “got out of control” and started threatening him and his fellows that he would kill them. He added that Safdar later damaged government property before leaving the site with his followers.
“My complaint is that Safdar and his cohort violated the sanctity of the Quaid’s mausoleum and his grave. A case [should be] registered against him for raising political slogans inside the mausoleum complex, death threats against me, and for damaging government property.”
According to the FIR, a case has been registered on Section 6 (a convening of meetings or processions in the mausoleum), Section 8 (entry into the mausoleum with a weapon) and Section 10 (the penalty for contravention of provisions) of the Quaid-e-Azam’s Mazar (Protection and Maintenance) Ordinance, 1971.