Pakistan's Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Marriyum Aurangzeb, who was in London during a stop-over on her way back after attending the 77th session of the UN General Assembly in New York as part of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s delegation, was viciously heckled at a coffee shop on Sunday by supporters of former PM Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.
Videos on social media show her being taunted by people sporting PTI colours -- the political mood in Pakistan has been very tense and polarised following Imran's ouster in what many of his supporters allege was a "soft coup".
The hecklers even followed her out of the shop, before proceeding to harass her with chants of "chorni, chorni" ("thief, thief"). Her ruling coalition, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) has been accused by PTI supporters of being staggeringly corrupt, as well as being a stooge of the United States - a so-called "imported government."
"Look at her roaming in London with money looted from Pakistan," some of the protesters jeered.
One woman who was heckling the minister, said that she, "makes grand claims on television there and she does not have a dupatta on her head”. presumably, the heckler was implying that the minister was insufficiently pious.
Marriyum, however, handled the hecklers with impeccable grance and poise -- while surrounded by jeering PTI supporters who record her with their mobile phones, she takes a sip of her drink unfazed as one heckler yells through a megaphone at her.
Addressing the incident in a reply to Hussain, she said she was “sad to see the toxic impact [PTI Chairman] Imran Khan’s politics of hate and divisiveness have had on our brothers and sisters.”
“You must have a sister and a mother. If someone heckles them on the streets the way you are heckling me, then what message is going out? Just now 20 people from the PTI (Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf) were here with mics. They were abusing me and they were calling out names without any reaction from me. This is no way. It doesn’t bother me. I only rise by showing patience and tolerance,” Aurangzeb tells a protester.
This is not the first time the information minister has been subjected to harassment from PTI supporters. In April, a group of Pakistani pilgrims accosted, heckled and chanted slogans PM Shehbaz and his entourage at the Masjid-i-Nabwi in Madina during their three-day visit to Saudi Arabia.
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