PM says govt, TLP have same objective but different approaches

Imran to lead campaign against Islamophobia, blasphemous caricatures

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday said that the government and Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) have the same objective of upholding sanctity of Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) but the approach differs.

Addressing the nation on television and radio on Monday, the prime minister said that a collective strategy by Muslim Ummah will have an effect on the west to prevent the incidents of blasphemy against the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him).

The prime minister said when 50 heads of Muslim countries declare that they would boycott trade with the west if any incident of blasphemy occurs, it would have an impact. He said that he himself will lead the campaign and will not disappoint the nation as well as Muslims of the world in this regard.

Expressing confidence, he said, “We will succeed in our mission to convince the western world that any disrespect to our Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in the name of freedom of expression causes pain to Muslims.”

Imran said that he has been raising voice against Islamophobia at international forums including the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the United Nations General Assembly, the UN Human Rights Commission and the UN human rights organisations.

He said that after the blasphemous incident in France, he wrote letters to the heads of states of Muslim countries, urging them to launch a collective campaign against Islamophobia. In addition, he said, he also wrote a letter to the Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to keep a check on blasphemous content on the social media platform.

The prime minister said that the objective of the government and the banned Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan to uphold sanctity of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) is the same; however, there is a difference in approach. He said that expulsion of the French ambassador, as demanded by the TLP, will not cause any damage to France, but rather badly affect Pakistan in many ways, particularly economy.

The prime minister also said severing ties with France will damage Pakistan’s relations with European Union (EU) which will also damage the country’s economy and export.

He said, “We need to be united at this point when the country is on the positive trajectory of economic growth with increase in exports, large scale manufacturing and job opportunities, stability in rupee value and wealth creation.”

The prime minister said that his government and the TLP had been in contact for over two months to resolve this issue, however, when they started mobilising their workers for a march toward Islamabad, the talks discontinued.

He said that the TLP workers resorted to road blocks, violence, arson and torturing police officials. He also said that four police personnel were martyred and over eight hundred others were injured by the TLP workers. He added that eight police vans were torched and private property worth millions of rupees was also damaged.

Imran said that owing to road blockade by the protesters citizens across the country faced immense difficulties and deaths were also reported in hospitals due to the disruption in oxygen supply to the hospitals amid the novel coronavirus pandemic

The prime minister urged the Ulema to play their constructive role and assist the government in this matter. He revealed that “external forces” tried to exploit violent TLP protests by spreading fake news on social media platforms. “We have reviewed 400,000 tweets, 70 per cent of which came from fake accounts,” he further said.

The premier added that 380 Indian contacts were also detected in several WhatsApp groups spreading fake news regarding the law and order in the country. “Don’t play into the hands of our enemies,” he said while conveying a message to the recently banned outfit.

While lashing out at opposition parties, he said that Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman also supported the deadly protest in a bid to destabilise the PTI government.

Earlier in the day, addressing the ground-breaking ceremony of Islamabad-Margalla Highway, the prime minister said that it is unfortunate that some religious and political parties have misused Islam.

“Unfortunately in our country, some religious and political parties misuse Islam at times. And they misuse it in such a manner that they damage their own country,” said the premier. He regretted that such acts do not affect others, but only damage Pakistan as a result.

The premier said that the country was built in the name of Islam, however, he said, such actions “result in adverse effects on the country and end up harming the people”.

“This is especially sad because I haven’t seen the kind of affection people have for Islam and our Holy Prophet (PBUH) here when compared to other places,” he lamented.

“Do we [the government] not get hurt when someone disrespects our Holy Prophet (PBUH)?” the prime minister asked.

PM Imran added that there is no way to determine who loves the Prophet (PBUH), but misusing the sentiment in such a manner will not benefit Islam.

“Today I am making a promise to the people, we will campaign against such actions on the international forum so that nobody, even in the Western countries, will dare disrespect our beloved Holy Prophet (PBUH),” the premier stated.

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