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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan is under fire from his opponents, his own party members, social media users and people from every walk of life for sending Shehryar Afridi, Chairman Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir, to UN General Assembly session following a video that Afridi uploaded went viral filming the homeless and lecturing the West on women's rights while strolling along New York's Times Square.

In an anecdotal survey conducted by Business Recorder, Afridi was not only criticized by people from a cross-section of society, but also by PTI lawmakers for making a bizarre commentary on the homeless in New York's Times Square.

A video of Afridi has gone viral on social media where he can be seen lamenting living conditions of women while strolling in New York's Times Square where he pointed towards a homeless woman and said: "See the condition of women in the country which lectures others on human rights."

"This is not a just political slogan but a reality, a ground reality. Pakistanis belonging to all ethnicities give respect to women. Women in Pakistan are living under better conditions than in those countries that pretend to be the champions of human rights," Afridi said while praising Prime Minister Khan for his initiative to shelter the homeless in major cities. "He [Afridi] should have been briefed on what he is not supposed to do or say before sending him to the UN General Assembly," a senior PTI parliamentarian said on condition of anonymity.

He added that the video has not only embarrassed the country but also strengthened the anti-Pakistan forces in the West and given an opportunity to the Opposition to question and mock Prime Minister Imran Khan's decision to send him to a very important world forum to represent Pakistan.

Senior PML-N leader Raja Zafar-ul-Haq said that Afridi as Kashmir committee chairman should have limited himself to speaking for the people of occupied Jammu and Kashmir, instead of making comments on rights of women in the US.

Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM's) senior leader Shah Owais Noorani questioned sending a person who has no knowledge of basic diplomatic norms.

"It was shameful to see him [Afridi] filming the homeless in the US and lecturing Americans on the women's rights," he maintained.

"Shehryar Afridi's Times Square video is shameful. As a representative of Pakistan tasked to advocate the case of Kashmir in the US, he made an utter fool of himself, and caused great embarrassment to Pakistan," Mehr Tarar, a writer and a journalist tweeted.

Hassan Khan, a writer based in London, tweeted: "Shehryar Afridi's monologue laced with Maula Jutt-style attitude at Times Square, New York City was below the belt and disrespectful not only for Pakistan but the US (host state) too. He seems to have no diplomatic etiquettes. Best if he's called back from UNGA session."

Some social media users mocked Prime Minister Khan for not getting a telephone call from US President Joe Biden. "Imran Khan sent Shehryar Afridi to the US as a punishment to Joe Biden for not calling him. No other way to explain his recent shenanigans," stated Anaya Khan, a law student.

Afridi's video comes a day after reports claimed that he had to face "tough" screening at John F Kennedy Airport in New York before he was allowed to enter the US allegedly after the Pakistan consulate in New York confirmed his credentials.

Foreign Office spokesperson Asim Iftikhar Ahmad, however, refuted the reports, saying: "As noted by the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington, as a first time visitor, Afridi had secondary screening briefly and was cleared in routine without any guarantees being sought or given by anyone from the Embassy or the Consulate."

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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