Sunday Apr 24 2022
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PTI's Shireen Mazari comes under fire for 'using religion card' against Miftah Ismail

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PTI leader and former human rights minister Shireen Mazari (L) and Finance Minister Miftah Ismail. — AFP
PTI leader and former human rights minister Shireen Mazari (L) and Finance Minister Miftah Ismail. — AFP

  • Shireen Mazari alleges Miftah Ismail, while flattering America, "mocked basic Islamic concepts like Amr bil Maroof".
  • Says Miftah's "ignorance was evident from the way he was stuttering during his speech".
  • Says "isn't anything sacred to this gang of thugs?"

Former minister for human rights Shireen Mazari has recently come under fire for "using the religion card" against Finance Minister Miftah Ismail.

Taking to Twitter, Mazari shared a video of the finance minister while he was addressing a US thinktank Atlantic Council in Washington and alleged that he "made fun" of some Islamic concepts. 

Miftah had departed for Washington in the early hours of Thursday to renegotiate the $6 billion Extended Fund Facility programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In the video, Miftah could be heard telling journalists about the no-confidence motion that led to the ouster of PTI Chairman Imran Khan from power. He then narrated how the former prime minister built a narrative of good versus evil, where the Opposition was painted as evil.

"The former prime minister essentially then started talking about some Quranic verses called Amr bil Maroof wa Nahi anil Munkar (promotion of virtue and prevention of vices). Somehow, we (the Opposition) were the standards bearers of vice and he was the standard bearer of virtue."

Miftah went on to say that the Taliban also used the same reference during their previous incarnation, adding that they had a ministry with a similar name. 

In response to Miftah's statement, Mazari called him out and wrote: "Shame on Miftah Ismail. While flattering America, he is mocking the basic Islamic concepts like Amr bil Maroof."

She added that Miftah's "ignorance was evident from the way he was stuttering during his speech".

"Isn't anything sacred to this gang of thugs?" she said.

Condemnations pour in

Following Mazari's tweet, several journalists, politicians, and civil society members condemned her move of "using religion", with some stating that such rhetoric could incite violence. 

Minister for Maritime Affairs Faisal Subzwari, in a tweet, called Mazari out and wrote that one cannot blame the illiterate and ignorant for resorting to extremism when highly-educated and qualified people like her would use the religion card and extreme misrepresentation of facts to attain political gains. 

"Please don't put this fire in politics. I am with Miftah Ismail."

Journalist Mubashir Zaidi wrote: "The betrayal card has now upgraded to the blasphemy card ... but remember this fire will burn everyone's house one day".

"Disappointed in Dr Mazari — who knows better than to try to whip up religious sentiment against their opponents," wrote political analyst and commentator Mosharraf Zaidi. 

Lawyer and human rights activist Jibran Nasir wrote: "Miftah Ismail: Imran Khan used Islam to paint PMLN corrupt in light of religious scriptures.  

Shireen Mazari: Miftah is ridiculing basic Islamic concepts by highlighting IK used religion card against PMLN. 

This was our human rights minister, on whom we relied for compassion."

Lawyer and human rights activist Imaan Zainab Mazari, who happens to be the daughter of Shireen Mazari, also condemned the move. Without quoting her mother's tweet, she wrote: "Accusations of blasphemy destroy lives and this politics of destruction cannot continue. If we do such irresponsible and dangerous politics then no one can escape from this fire."