Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal has said that a family which heckled him on Friday at a fast food restaurant came to his hometown of Narowal and apologised for their actions.
“[The family] expressed remorse and embarrassment. I had already announced that I will not take legal action against them. We all are Pakistanis and we don’t have to turn the right to disagree into hate and maintain mutual respect,” he wrote on his official Twitter handle while sharing a picture of the meeting with the family on Sunday.
بھیرہ واقعہ میں ملوث فیملی نے نارووال آ کر ملاقات میں اپنے عمل پر معذرت کی،پچھتاوے اور شرمندگی کا اظہار کیا۔میں پہلے ہی ان کیخلاف قانونی چارہ جوئی نہ کرنے کا اعلان کر چکا تھا۔ہم سب پاکستانی ہیں ایک دوسرے سے اختلاف کے حق کو نفرت میں تبدیل نہیں کرنا اور باہمی احترام قائم رکھنا ہے۔ pic.twitter.com/Ck1z4YNqxs— Ahsan Iqbal (@betterpakistan) July 10, 2022
His statement comes a day after he announced that he would not seek criminal charges against the “PTI supporters” who railed at him and hurled abuses at him, calling him “chor” (thief).
“I had two options: I could either take action under code of criminal procedure but would not do so because there were women and children as well,” he had said, adding that he will file an FIR in the ‘people's court’ to discourage such attitudes.
"I want to register a complaint against the leadership of the party that encourages this behaviour," he said, referring to the former ruling party.
A video of the incident, which took place at McDonald’s branch near Bhera Interchange, went viral over social media on Friday night. The hecklers assailed the minister unabated even as he tried to talk to them.
Federal Minister of Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal was swarmed with chants of 'thief' as he stood in a fast food restaurant waiting to place his order.#etribune #news #ahsaniqbal pic.twitter.com/ujykBExbgr— The Express Tribune (@etribune) July 8, 2022
Reacting to today’s development, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said, “A life spent in public service with integrity has earned you [Ahsan Iqbal] this respect”.
“Character of a society is determined by how we differ, the family defining what we should all strive to be, our better selves. This act of recompense, I pray ushers us into the light,” she added.
A life spent in public service with integrity has earned you this respect.Character of a society is determined by how we differ,the family defining what we should all strive to be,our better selves.This act of recompense,I pray ushers us into the light. #PakistanSalutesAhsanIqbal https://t.co/EDsrmbnEFt— Marriyum Aurangzeb (@Marriyum_A) July 10, 2022
Finance Minister Miftah Ismail described his colleague as “king of high moral values”.
کچھ لوگ بہت اعلی ظرف ہوتے ہیں- آپ اعلی ظرفی کے بادشاہ نکلے https://t.co/x9uQefZmKW— Miftah Ismail (@MiftahIsmail) July 10, 2022
The apology didn’t go down well with PTI spokesperson Shahbaz Gill, who called out the PML-N minister for the same.
In a Twitter post, the former special assistant to the prime minister accused Iqbal of coercing the family into making the apology.
“You are a chor and the world for all times to come will identify you as such,” Gill added.
ان بیچاروں پر پریشر ڈلوا کر۔ دھمکیاں دے کر۔ ریاستی مشینری استعمال کر کے معزرت کروا لینے سے کیا آپ چور نہیں رہیں گے ؟ آپ چور ہیں اور رہتی دنیا تک دنیا آپکو اسی تعارف سے جانے گی۔— Dr. Shahbaz GiLL (@SHABAZGIL) July 10, 2022
آپ کتنے چھوٹے آدمی ہیں کہ پریشر ڈال کر گھر آئے لوگوں وہ بھی ایک خاتون کی معذرت پر شیخی مار رہے ہیں۔ https://t.co/vd30hg0jXW
PTI denies 'ordinary angry citizens' were supporters
PTI leaders had earlier denied Iqbal's claims that the hecklers were supporters of former ruler Imran Khan.
Hitting back at the PML-N leader, former information minister Fawad Chaudhry suggested that Iqbal should "wear a burqa" and go out in public.
He said that PML-N leaders were unaware of the ground realities. "People are against you because you came to power by stealing their political mandate. Social stability is possible only with political stability in the country.”
Senior PTI leader Shireen Mazari, responding to a tweet by a journalist condemning the incident, claimed that ordinary citizens were fed up and angry, questioning why was it being assumed without any proof that these people supported PTI.
On the other hand, at a press conference later, PTI's Shahbaz Gill said that protesting and raising their voice against something wrong was every citizen's right. "The law doesn't give you the permission to physically attack someone but there is nothing wrong in expressing your views. That is your right as per the law.
"If you don't like the word, suggest a better word for chor, we would call you that."
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ