–PM Khan calls for restraint as TLP heads to capital
ISLAMABAD: Dutch anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders on Thursday announced cancelling his plans to hold the blasphemous caricatures contest, against which Tehrrek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) was leading a rally to Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad. Geert stated on his Twitter account that he was cancelling the contest as it could pose danger of violence against innocent people.
In a published statement he said he would never personally stop his campaign against Islam but the risk to innocents, and of attacks on the Netherlands, stemming from the proposed contest, were too great.
“My point about the intolerant nature of Islam has been proved again by this,” he said.
Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan called for restraint as TLP’s protest rally, led by firebrand cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi, was inching closer to the federal capital to protest against the blasphemous caricatures.
As of the announcement by Geert Wilders, the TLP had crossed Gujar Khan, with no official statement of cancelling their protest till the filing of this report.
In a video message, the premier said that he would move the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) in an effort to raise the issue of blasphemous caricatures in the United Nations (UN).
West did not understand that the perspective Muslims had towards religion was quite different from the one they had.
“The matter of blasphemous caricature is an issue for every Muslim and we need to tell the West that they cannot hurt the religious sentiments of Muslims around the globe,” he said.
PM Khan also said that after bringing all Muslims on the same page, a protest would be recorded against the handful of people who deliberately hurt the religious sentiments of the Muslims, and added that Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had already started contacting his counterparts across the Muslim world in this regard.
The PM, however, stopped short of asking the TLP to cancel their protest.
Hundreds of demonstrators left from Data Darbar in Lahore on Wednesday, spent the night in Gujrat and have been on the move since morning. They were temporarily held back in Serai Alamgir where containers had been placed to block routes.
TWO DEAD IN ROAD ACCIDENT
Meanwhile, two people were killed and four others were injured when a trailer accompanying the long march participants experienced a brake failure and crashed into another, police said.
The injured were shifted to THQ Hospital Sohawa where the condition of one injured was said to be critical.
TROOPS, CONTAINERS DEPLOYED:
While the federal government is negotiating with the TLP to diffuse the situation, it has also made preparations in the capital to avoid the entry of zealots. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government is set to seal off the high-security zone in Islamabad where containers have been positioned alongside the roads.
An additional contingent of 700 Frontier Corps troops have been deployed to reinforce the local police force. The department had initially requested 2,000 troops and 1,000 Rangers.
TLP leader Khadim Hussain Rizvi has demanded that the Dutch ambassador to Pakistan be expelled from the country and threatened that his workers would “stay on the streets until either the publication of blasphemous cartoons in the Netherlands is stopped or the government immediately ends diplomatic ties with the Dutch”.
The religiopolitical party had urged the PTI government to not only “discontinue diplomatic and commercial relations with the Netherlands” but also “demand from other Islamic countries to do the same”.
The TLP had also demanded that since the competition’s judge is an American national, “therefore, strict measures should also be taken against the US”.
On Wednesday, the negotiations between PTI’s provincial government in Punjab and TLP stalled after the provincial religious affairs minister and the party’s leadership failed to reach a consensus as protesters mobilised by the party commenced their march towards the capital.