ISLAMABAD – Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday said that Western countries should treat the people who spread hate against Muslims by abusing Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) the same as those who deny the Holocaust.
Speaking after the government banned the religious party that turned violent while demanding the expulsion of the French ambassador to protest against President Emmanuel Macron’s support for the cartoons’ publication, PM Khan said insulting the Prophet (PBUH) hurt Muslims across the world.
“We Muslims have the greatest love & respect for our Prophet,” he tweeted. “We cannot tolerate any such disrespect & abuse.”
Let me make clear to people here & abroad: Our govt only took action against TLP under our anti-terrorist law when they challenged the writ of the state and used street violence & attacking the public & law enforcers. No one can be above the law and the Constitution.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) April 17, 2021
The group Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) was banned on Thursday after days of violent protests during which four policemen were killed, compelling the French embassy in Islamabad to recommend its nationals leave Pakistan, a call that appears to have gone largely unheeded.
Khan tweeted: “I… call on Western govts who have outlawed any negative comment on the holocaust to use the same standards to penalise those deliberately spreading their message of hate against Muslims by abusing our Prophet.”
Denying the Holocaust is illegal in several European countries including Germany and France and offenders can be jailed.
The prime minister suggested the government had not banned the TLP because it disagreed with TLP’s motivation, but rather its methods.
“Let me make clear to people here & abroad: Our govt only took action against TLP under our anti-terrorist law when they challenged the writ of the state and used street violence & attacking the public & law enforcers,” he said.
“No one can be above the law and the Constitution.”
However, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry made it clear that Pakistan is not a weaker state and that banning TLP was country’s internal issue and no other country was behind the decision.
“Slapping ban on the TLP was the decision of the government of Pakistan and now the TLP is over,” the minister was quoted by The Dawn as saying. He also made it clear that no foreign power or country dictated Islamabad to ban the religious outfit.
The minister was accompanied by Special Adviser to the Prime Minister on Political Communication Dr Shehbaz Gill and former federal health minister and PTI general secretary Amir Kiyani during his interaction with the media at Rawalpindi’s DHQ Hospital in Raja Bazaar.
He said the government overwhelmed protestors with a comprehensive strategy. The government banned social media for some time in order to ensure peace, he said, adding that the enemies of Pakistan fanned sectarianism.
The minister said in democracy everybody had his viewpoint but no one could be allowed to ‘blackmail the state by use of force’ or any other means.
In this regard, Chaudhry also criticised the statement of opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leaders and said: “PML-N leader Rana Sanaullah will be booked under terrorism charges for hurling threats at Punjab chief secretary, Lahore commissioner and other high-ranking officers.”
He said the Constitution of Pakistan ensured safety and security of each and every citizen and no one could threaten government officers and their families. “We must remain within the limits of the Constitution while doing politics,” he remarked.
The people who threatened the government sometimes seemed interested in following in the footsteps of the self-exiled Muttahida Qaumi Movement founder, Chaudhry said, while making it clear that strict action would be taken against anyone who dared to blackmail government institutions or departments.