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PTI activists attempt to disrupt Junaid Safdar’s nikkah

PML-N workers outnumbered their PTI rivals

SAMAA | - Posted: Aug 23, 2021 | Last Updated: 2 months ago
SAMAA |
Posted: Aug 23, 2021 | Last Updated: 2 months ago

Junaid Safdar with his wife Aisha Saif at their nikkah ceremony in London. (Photo: Twitter)

It was the big day for Junaid Safdar and Aisha (also spelt Ayesha) Saif as they tied the knot in a nikkah ceremony at the five-star Lanesborough Hotel in London. Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief Mian Nawaz Sharif arrived at the venue in a black Mercedes-Benz SUV protected by guards. Inside the hotel, it proceeded smoothly. Outside, however,  a few dozen activists from the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) attempted to disrupt the event by chanting slogans and holding placards.

Scenes of heated exchanges between PTI and PML-N workers have made it to social media after videos went viral. One of the videos shows a PML-N worker first pleading with a PTI woman to leave the spot and then losing his temper. Other PML-N workers restrained him. Slogans of “wazir-e-azam Nawaz Sharif” could be heard in the background. The PTI worker was finally forced to leave by other people present at the scene, many of them carried Nawaz Sharif’s pictures.

PTI activists protest outside Lanesborough Hotel in London on Sunday, 22 August, 2021

The PTI activist was called “tigress” by some people on Twitter.

Another video shows a larger anti-PMLN crowd gathered at the gate. They carried placards that asked whether money from Pakistan’s national exchequer had been used to cover the wedding expenses.

A third video captures PTI men retreating from the hotel as they are being shown the door by suited guards. They are chased by PMLN workers chanting “wazir-e-azam Nawaz Sharif.”

It appeared that PML-N workers outnumbered their PTI rivals. One of the PTI activists voiced his alarm at the poor show of his fellows.

Both parents of Junaid Safdar, Maryam Nawaz and Captain (R) Safdar Awan were unable to attend the wedding as they are not in the UK.

Most of the videos were tweeted by journalist Murtaza Ali Shah who is known for his in-depth coverage of Pakistan related events in London. He reported about a taxi driver who kicked up quite a storm.

“Minicab driver Nadeem parked his car outside Lanesborough hotel, the venue of Junaid Safdar’s nikkah event, and started dancing with his family demanding the return of ”looted money’; PMLN activists piled on,” Shah tweeted.

Bride and Groom

Who is Aisha Saif? This was the question that everyone posed to google when Maryam Nawaz tweeted on August 11 that her son would be marrying “Ayesha Saif-ur-Rahman Khan.” She also shared a photo of the invitation card and told her supporters that she would not be attending the event as her name was still on the Exit Control List (ECL).

Ayesha Saif’s father Saif ur Rehman headed the Ehtesab Cell in the late 1990s before Nawaz Sharif was ousted in the coup. Ehtesab Cell, later, grew into the National Accountability Bureau under Gen Musharraf.

Rehman has businesses in Qatar, his old base, and continues to maintain close family relations with the Sharifs. Ayesha and Junaid know each other from their childhood. They were reportedly seeing each other in London.

Old vs new Photos

Maryam Nawaz’s August 11 tweet and the news of the PTI protest outside Lanesborough Hotel on Sunday has piqued everyone’s interest. This has led to some people sharing old family photos of the Sharifs. For example, one image shows Junaid with a girl in a bridal dress and another image, from the same event, shows him sitting at a table with a big red turban. The photos were being linked to Junaid’s nikkah on Sunday.

In this 2015 photo Junaid Safdar accompanies her sister Mehrun Nisa at her valima

However, Samaa Digital’s fact check revealed the photographs were taken six years ago at the wedding of Junaid’s sister Mehrun Nisa. The bride in the photos is Mehrun Nisa and Junaid is walking her down the marriage hall during the valima ceremony.

The photos from Junaid’s wedding started to come out around 12 am PKT. One of the first images made available shows the groom with his grandfather Nawaz Sharif, father in law Saif ur Rehman, and uncle Hassan Nawaz. They are at the Lanesborough Hotel, looking at something not in the frame, perhaps at the protestors outside. The other photo shows Junaid sitting with Nawaz Sharif on a sofa at the same location, a broad smile on his face.

Junaid Safdar (in the background) with his grandfather, uncle, and father in law at Lanesborough hotel in London on August 22, 2021.

Maryam Nawaz then tweeted three images that show Junaid signing the nikkah document as Nawaz Sharif and Ishaq Dar looked on. Aisha sits beside Junaid in a reserved manner like a traditional dulhan from the East.

Maryam Nawaz captioned the image with “May Allah bless [you two] with everlasting happiness and prosperity.”

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