Shehbaz comes under fire for clapping, cheering during press conference

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LAHORE: Punjab Chief Minister (CM) Shehbaz Sharif conducted a press conference Tuesday night, along with the father of seven-year-old Zainab, who was raped and later found dead in a pile of garbage days after being kidnapped in Kasur.

However, Sharif, who had conducted the presser to announce the arrest of Zainab’s murderer, came under fire for the clapping and cheering that took place in the conference.

As the CM announced the arrest of the key suspect in the murder case, the room broke into a loud applause, with Shehbaz congratulating, amid loud cheers and applauds, various ministers, officials and members of intelligence agencies for tracking down the suspected “serial killer”.

His action was severely criticised by people from all walks of life, with Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah being one of the first ones to come out with the criticism.  The Pakistan People’s Party leader lashed out at the Punjab CM, saying that culprits are apprehended all over the world but clapping and cheering after arresting a criminal was unheard of, adding that such an action was akin to “rubbing salt” in the wounds of Zainab’s parents.

Many questions were raised shortly after the pictures of the presser started making rounds on the social media, with the general public accusing Shehbaz Sharif and the other officials of being insensitive to the feelings of Zainab’s father who was also present there.

One Twitter user Zeeshan Akhwand Khattak stated, “CM Punjab celebrating the arrest of Zainab’s killer/rapist, giving Mubarakbad to the Nation. Ghulams standing there are clapping. Though he should be ashamed that he waited for 12 girls to be raped. Want to know why the action was not taken on the rape of the first girl.”

 

 

Another user Mahrukh stated that it broke her heart to see that everyone was laughing except the father of Zainab.

 

Twitter user Adil Saeed said, “It was a perfect time and occasion to be hanging their heads in shame and seeking forgiveness from Zainab’s father. But here are our guardians. Never fail to surprise by their heartlessness.”

 

Another user Ammar criticised Shehbaz Sharif and the other officials present at the press conference and said that the press conference had turned this extremely sensitive case into a joke.

 

“This image of Shehbaz Sharif and his toadies laughing during the press conference on arresting little Zainab’s killer while her father is sitting there is one of those moments when there’s just one reaction: kuch sharm kar lain,” was another message that Twitter user Mehr Tarar put out as a reaction to the incident.

 

 

Actor Hamza Ali Abbasi stated, “Instead of bowing down in shame that what is done in 14 days only due to a national outrage was not done in three yrs while 12 kids got raped & killed, Shehbaz Sharif made everyone clap & rejoice?”

 

“I felt physically sick watching the CM Shehbaz & PMLN team laughing, joking and clapping in front of Zainub’s grieving father during the presser. The height of insensitivity & ignorance” lashed out another Twitter user Anjum Kiani.

 

 

Another user said, “You know I really wish the police do a presser on this and tell us about all aspects of the investigation. All we got was clapping and Shehbaz gloating.”

 

“Pakistani rulers have zero empathy with the masses. And that was quite evident in Shehbaz’s presser wherein he was acting all goofy with his cronies while the father of Zainab was seated beside him. This guy has some nerve,” said another Twitter user.

“One of the investigators just said something funny at the pressser revealing Zainab’s rapist and murderer. CM Shahbaz, sitting next to Zainab’s father, laughed.

No. No. No,” was what another Twitter user had to say about the whole matter.

 

“Full marks to Punjab Govt for arresting accused murderer of Zainab. But really insensitive of Shahbaz & team to crack jokes and laugh during the press conference sitting with a man who’s seven-year-old daughter was raped and murdered. Nawaz Sharif did same in Peshawar after APS attack,” said another user Ashar Jawad.

 

Another user said, “Not for one moment they gave the impression of feeling the pain Zainab’s family is going through. Shahbaz Sharif is the top Showbaaz in politics, his dramay baazi is legendary & normally manages to pull the act through but last night was all about his depravity, his callousness..”

On Wednesday, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah— while addressing a ceremony in Faisalabad— sought to defend the criticism on cheering at the press conference, saying that the clapping was meant to “acknowledge the efforts of the people who arrested the murderer.”

Seven-year-old Zainab Fatima Ameen went missing on January 4 and was later found murdered in a rubbish dump after several days of her disappearance.  Prior to her kidnapping, Zainab had gone to her tuition centre but did not return. Her parents had gone to Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah, and the girl was living with her aunts.

According to the postmortem examination, Zainab was raped and sodomised before being strangled to death. Her murder triggered protests all over the country.

The murderer Imran Ali, who was arrested on January 23, has allegedly raped and killed at least eight girls between the ages of 5 and 9 in Kasur since 2016.

The Punjab government had set up a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe the case and Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar had also taken suo motu notice of the incident.