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‘Pakistan ka Mulayam’—Imran Khan minister faces heat over comment on Sri Lankan’s lynching

A user said the Sri Lankan’s lynching and minister ⁦Pervez Khattak’s comment was an example of the radicalised population — a challenge for the leadership itself.

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New Delhi: From being called “Pakistan’s Mulayam Singh” to embarrassing the country for his “immature reply”, Pakistan’s defence minister ⁦Pervez Khattak has left Pakistanis perplexed by downplaying the brutal mob lynching of a Sri Lankan national at a Sialkot factory, by saying, “Ladke hain…josh mein ho jaata hai”. 

During an interview with Dawn in Peshawar Sunday, Khattak was asked if the Sialkot lynching, by a mob of over 100 men over alleged “blasphemy” charges, had taken place after the government lifted the ban on the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP). The minister said: “What led to this incident is that when children grow up, they become spirited and do things out of emotions. This does not mean Pakistan is going towards destruction. They felt that the accused was disrespecting Islam and reacted to defend it and led to the sudden lynching”.

“I would have also done these things out of emotions had I been there,” he added.

The minister’s “disgusting” comments have received widespread condemnation.

Journalist and human rights activist Saleem Javed slammed Khattak  for “downplaying lynching and burning of Sri Lankan man” and said it exposed the “pathological callousness & normalisation” of such incidents.

Javed wrote, “#Pakistan’s Defense Minister publicly downplays lynching and burning of Sri Lankan man by saying ‘well, it was just a youthful sentimental act’ while asking the media not to sensitize the issue. It only shows a pathological callousness & normalization”. 

Saying how his remarks showed that “the rot in Pakistan society is top-down”, a Twitter user wrote, “Pervaiz Khattak, minister in #ImranKhan’s cabinet describing the brutal lynching of Sri Lankan manager as something which kids do under passion & is underplaying the #sialkotincident”. 

Another user termed it “a day of disgrace for all Pakistanis” and said it was a “clear example of the #Pakistan’s radicalised population which has now become a challenge for the leadership itself”.

Tarek Fatah, an Indian born in Pakistan, author, and Toronto Sun columnist, shared a clip from the interview and slammed the minister for “dismissing the seriousness of the killing of a Sri Lankan by an Islamic lynch mob”.

He wrote, “Pakistan’s Defence Minister ⁦@PervezKhattakPK⁩ dismisses seriousness of the killing of a Sri Lankan by an Islamic lynch mob. He said it was “youthful exuberance” of Muslim youth. It happens all the time; when youth feel Islam is attacked; they react to defend it, he added”.

Another user asked, “Pakistan’s mulayam singh!! Will he song the same tune if Pakistanis abroad face the same fate and the act is justified as “just a youthful sentimental act”?”

While one user shamed Parveez for making such a “foolish statement”, another said “justifying such horrible acts as youth sentiment will encourage people to commit such violence”. 


The horrific incident of lynching was condemned by Prime Minister Imran Khan on 3 December saying, “The horrific vigilante attack on factory in Sialkot & the burning alive of Sri Lankan manager is a day of shame for Pakistan. I am overseeing the investigations & let there be no mistake all those responsible will be punished with full severity of the law. Arrests are in progress”.

In another tweet a day later, PM Khan said he informed Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa that over 100 people were arrested in the case and assured him they would be prosecuted with full severity of the law.

Calling it a “cold-blooded murder”, Pakistan’s army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa also denounced the killing, and said the Sialkot lynching was “extremely condemnable and shameful. Such extra-judicial vigilantism cannot be condoned at any cost”.

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