Saudi Arabia releases Pakistanis arrested for insulting officials in Medina
Saudi Arabia's king has pardoned six Pakistani nationals arrested earlier this year for insulting a government delegation from Pakistan at the Prophet's Mosque in Medina.
In April, Saudi police arrested at least five people for “abusing and insulting” Pakistani Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb and Minister for Narcotics Control Shahzain Bugti at Masjid al-Nabawi, the second holiest site in Islam.
The two officials were part of a delegation visiting Saudi Arabia on Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s first foreign trip as Pakistan’s premier.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman “issued an order to pardon and release six Pakistani nationals who were arrested last Ramadan after they assaulted a Pakistani woman and her companions with offensive words at the courtyard premises of the Prophet’s Mosque,” a statement published on the Saudi Press Agency said on Wednesday.
It added that the pardon was granted in response to a request from the Pakistani prime minister.
Saudi Arabia rarely issues royal pardons in political and security cases.
Sharif and 18 members of his family spent several years in exile in Saudi Arabia after his older brother Nawaz Sharif was deposed as prime minister in 1999 on charges of kidnapping, hijacking, and corruption.
Imran Khan removal
Just weeks before the incident in April, former Prime Minister Imran Khan was controversially removed from office after losing a no-confidence vote on his leadership.
Medina’s police authority said at the time that the actions of those arrested “contradict the sanctity of the place and impact the safety of visitors and worshippers”.
The arrested expats were alleged to have been supporters of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.
Khan denied involvement in the incident but said that it was a reaction to the circumstances around his removal from office.
“We are not asking the people to come out, it’s the public themselves coming out to protest as they are in pain and anger,” he said.
“A bunch of crooks [have been] imposed on Pakistan… therefore what happened at Masjid-al-Nabawi was a result of their deeds.”
While prime minister, during a visit of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Islamabad in 2019, Khan drew attention to the plight of 3,000 Pakistani prisoners in Saudi jails.
The de facto Saudi leader agreed then to release 2,107 Pakistani prisoners with “immediate effect,” though the majority of those are still believed to be detained.
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