Pakistani politicians have lashed out at Prime Minister Imran Khan and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) for allegedly seeking zakat and fitra from the Saudi government after a picture of Communication Minister Murad Saeed meeting a Saudi official went viral on social media.
This “fake news” comes in the wake of Imran Khan’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia at the invitation of Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman (MBS).
The picture that is being shared on social media as evidence shows Murad Saeed attending a ceremony reportedly held at Saudi Embassy in Islamabad to distribute ration bags among deserving families last week.
Based on this picture and a subsequent undated letter, people, including political bigwigs, started bashing PM Imran for receiving zakat from the kingdom, even though this was not the case. In fact, Murad Saeed didn’t even accompany Imran during his recent visit to Saudi Arabia, so it was impossible that the meeting took place during the visit of the premier.
It is highly probable that the picture was released after Saeed along with Saudi officials attended a food distribution ceremony on May 8 at the Saudi embassy. After the meeting, the communication minister had said that the Saudi government was taking measures for the betterment of Pakistani expatriates.
At the same time, an undated letter from the Saudi government started making rounds on social media. The letter said that the Saudis have decided to help poor Pakistanis in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa under King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre. According to the letter, zakat and al-fitar project has been launched in the country that will “benefit 114,192 people”.
OPP BASHES GOVT:
The political rivals of the government didn’t wait to confirm the veracity of these reports. Alluding to the letter, Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Tuesday said that PM Imran’s only “achievement during his visit to Saudi Arabia is receiving 19,000 bags of rice in terms of zakat and fitra”.
“If Imran Khan’s 22-year struggle was to make a nuclear power worthy of the Saudi king’s zakat rice, then I pray that God does not help anyone in such a struggle,” Bilawal said.
Pakistan Muslim League’s (PML-N) leader Afzal Khokhar mocked Murad Saeed, saying the minister, who had claimed to throw Rs200 billion in IMF’s face after coming to power, is seeking zakat from Saudis now.
PML-N’s senior leader Khawaja Saad Rafique also took to Twitter and said, “If Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government completes five years then we will have beggar’s bowl [kashkol] in place of crescent and star.”
GOVT SHOOTS DOWN RUMOURS:
The government however issued a clarification about the undated letter. Dr Arslan Khalid, PM’s focal person on social media, said that the aid project has nothing to with Imran’s visit to Saudi Arabia, as the relief agency was working in Pakistan for at least 15 years.
“The King Salman Humanitarian and Relief Center is working in Pakistan since 2005 and is providing humanitarian aid in all provinces. It has got nothing to do with PM visit to KSA,” he added.
“The King Salman Humanitarian and Relief Center is working in Pakistan since 2005 and is providing humanitarian aid in all provinces. It has got nothing to do with PM visit to KSA . @SumairaJajja has shared all the links in her fact checking thread,” he tweeted.
WHAT IS KSRELIEF?
KSrelief also launched a food bags project worth $1 million to be distributed among the people in 10 districts of Balochistan during the holy month of Ramzan, reported a daily newspaper.
According to an official press release, the project is being executed in collaboration with the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and local government of Balochistan will benefit about 124,200 people in 10 districts of Balochistan in Ramzan.
The aid project had also helped the Sindh government after floods last year and HIV outbreak in Rotadero.