Six PTI activists have been convicted and sentenced to 10 years and eight years respectively, apart from being fined 20,000 Saudi riyals each and having their mobile phones confiscated. They were accused of having violated the sanctity of the Masjid-i-Nabvi when they raised slogans against Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his delegation while they were there for Umrah in April. It should strike everyone that the Saudi justice system is swift; as the conviction and sentence hass come less than four months after the offense. In Pakistan, the decision would be so far off thast the accused would be applying for bail.
Apart from the quality of Saudi justice, PTI supporters should take warning, especially expatriates. Nowhere abroad does any country look kindly on those importing the politics of their country of origin into it. Migrants, for whatever reason, are expected to keep their heads down, and keep quiet. For an assertion of one/s rights as a human being, one has to be in one’s own country. That is why colonies obtained independence. PTI supporters will find abroad that they have to obey local laws, and they will not be protected by their party.
It is not so much their party’s pretense of their non-existence that has harmed the six convicts, as its egging on followers to raise slogans against opposition figures. They do this at home too, as Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal found out recently. Perhaps the most unfortunate part of the incident was PTI chief Imran Khan’s reaction to the sloganeering family’s apology to Mr Iqbal, that they were forced to apologize. Domestically there may be some hope for domestic leniency because of the supposed tilt of the courts to the PTI, but abroad, especially in Arab countries, there is a zero-tolerance policy. The recent convictions should be seen as a testing of limits that will not be tried again.