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Tuesday November 30, 2021

Dance, protest and drama outside Junaid Safdar’s Nikah venue

August 24, 2021

LONDON: The Pakistan Muslim League (N) activists battled a group of protesters outside the Lanesborough Hotel right opposite to the Hyde Park Corner and Park Lane, the venue of Nawaz Sharif’s grandson Junaid Safdar’s Nikah event.

A group of six people led by Zafar Khilji, who is originally from Karachi and runs a trading company in East London, arrived at the venue carrying posters of “Voice of Pakistan” and demanding the return of Nawaz Sharif to Pakistan. The PML-N workers, led by Zubair Gull, reached the venue two hours before the start of the Nikah event, with sweets and two professional dholists.

A male friend and three female companions accompanied Zafar Khilji. The PML-N workers moved immediately to snatch the banners and forced the group to leave the area through Hyde Park.

Speaking to the media, Zafar Khilji and his friend Dawood said they were not expecting “rudeness” from the PML-N workers and were there only to exercise their right of free expression.Dawood claimed that he was pushed and forced to leave the area, while he was there to “question where the money came from for the expensive Nikah ceremony”. Zafar Khilji told this reporter that he had an assurance from the original protest organisers and others that they would turn up at the protest but they didn’t show up and let others down - who were chased and heckled throughout the time they were there. “It was a mistake to be there,” he said.

As Khilji and his group left for their homes, a bizarre scene unfolded right at the car passage outside the main entry door of the hotel.Pakistani cab driver Muhammad Nadeem parked his car at the entrance, blocked the passage, played a song and started dancing outside to the hippy tune while his wife, daughter and son filmed him. What followed next was drama and entertainment too.

Around a dozen PMLN workers gathered around him and asked him to move his car but he refused, saying that he was there to “have fun, dance and sing with my family” as a way of protest against Nawaz Sharif.

When Muhammad Nadeem refused to get into his car and leave, security guards of the hotel and PMLN workers pushed him hard to force him into his car seat but the cab driver refused and fell on the ground - looking as if he had fainted.

As the security staff brought water for him and his family kept filming the scene, a PMLN worker entered his car to move it but right then Nadeem jumped up and started chanting slogans again. He was pushed several metres away from the car and his car was forcibly moved to the end of private parking way.

Both Nadeem’s wife and the hotel management called the security, against each other. Meanwhile, both sides abused each other in the most vulgar terms. After the police interviewed both sides, Nadeem spoke to the Pakistani journalists, danced and sang “Ho Guriya Japani” for them.

Muhammad Nadeem said he was a supporter of PTI and “loved Imran Khan” but didn’t like anyone in PTI other than the party leader himself. Nadeem said he wanted accountability of Nawaz Sharif but also Pervez Musharraf, Aleem Khan, Faisal Vawda who should be held accountable for the wealth they have made.

“I was on the Edgware Road to treat my family and then came here to demand the money trail. I will not let this marriage event go ahead,” said Nadeem, adding that someone also punched his son during the melee.

Muhammad Nadeem said he danced at the hotel entrance so that his video could go viral. “I once danced outside Avenfield flats and that video had gone viral and I got so much recognition due to that video.”

The call to protest was given through WhatsApp groups and also at a protest held outside the 10 Downing Street by a group calling itself “Insaaf Ki Umeed”. Both the original protest coordinator and organiser of ‘Insaaf Ki Umeed’ withdrew the protest call after PMLN’s UK leader Zubair Gull announced to bring out activists to counter the protests through “whatever means possible”.

Several protesters who arrived at the scene said they supported the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and some said they were “paying members” of the party but the official Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) distanced itself from the protest in strong words. Jabar Farooq Chohan told The News and Geo that the PTI had not called for any protest.

Chohan said: “The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has nothing to do with any demonstration on the property owned by the Sharif family or any place where any ceremony is taking place regarding the marriage of Captain Safdar’s son.

“Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf does not want to discourage any Pakistani’s freedom of expression but as an organisation it wants to make it clear that the PTI has not called for any kind of demonstration and the PTI has nothing to do with any such demonstration. PTI UK expresses dissatisfaction with the protest.”

Inside the venue, Junaid Safdar’s Nikah was formalised with Ayesha Saif — the daughter of former accountability chief senator Saif-ur-Rehman - in the presence of Nawaz Sharif, his family members and guests mainly invited by the bride’s side. A police officer at the venue said that both the cab driver and a PML-N representative had given statements to the police making allegations. “We will review the footage and decide next steps,” said the police officer.