ISLAMABAD: The unseemly incident in which a shoe was thrown at former prime minister Nawaz Sharif during his visit to a madressah on Sunday was condemned widely in the country amid concerns that intolerance was touching new highs.

While most political parties criticised the incident, there were a few that largely held the ruling party responsible for it.

The president of the Awami Muslim League, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, said it was the result of faulty policies of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. For his part, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) spokesman Fawad Chaudhry said such incidents could be avoided if the people voted sensibly in the elections.

President Mamnoon Hussain, who normally keeps mum when it comes to political matters, condemned the incident and expressed concern over “increasing incidents of intolerance” in the country.

“The wave of intolerance can prove to be disastrous for the country and no individual and institution can be protected. Unprecedented successes in the war on terror can turn into defeat if such a trend is not stopped,” he said in a statement issued by the presidency.

The president directed the authorities concerned to utilise all the resources available to protect national leaders, as well as common people. “I also warn the elements who want to treat difference of opinion with hatred and enmity, this trend can prove to be ruinous for the nation,” Mr Hussain added.

Minister of State for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb termed the incident a “sad” one and described it as the outcome of five years of “politics of intolerance” of PTI.

PTI chairman Imran Khan criticised the “shoe attack” and said he was relieved that no person from his party was behind it. “This is against our morality,” he said.

“I want to tell everyone that throwing shoes is not the way to oppose political rivals,” Mr Khan said.

Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said an ugly trend, of hurling shoes and throwing ink, on political opponents was emerging in politics that needed to be stopped.

In a statement, he said his party was against the use of such disrespectful tactics against opponents since the very beginning and condemned the incident in the “strongest possible terms”.

PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari expressed similar views and said: “Tolerance and patience must be observed in politics.”

Condemning the incident, Awami National Party chief Asfandyar Wali Khan expressed the fear that a new spate of intolerance was emerging in the country.

Mehmood Khan Achakzai of the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party also criticised the incident.

Published in Dawn, March 12th, 2018

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