ISLAMABAD: Declaring that the elements inciting people against the judiciary and army just to enlarge their vote bank were not serving the cause of Islam, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday warned the groups that had mounted protests against a lawful judgement of the apex court to desist from confronting the state.

“Do not take us [to a situation] where we are compelled to take [strict] action,” the prime minister said in a televised speech in which he criticised the sharp reaction from Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) over the Supreme Court’s decision to acquit Aasia Bibi in a blasphemy case.

He urged protesters not to harm the country’s interests for the sake of politics. “If an attempt is made to do it, I want to make it clear that the state will fulfil its responsibility and protect the lives and properties of people.”

He asked the people not to be swayed by propaganda unleashed with the sole purpose of increasing a party’s vote bank. “This is no service to Islam; this is enmity with the country.”

Regrets remarks made by demonstrators against CJP and army chief

The language used in reaction to the court ruling had forced him to express his views, said the prime minister.

He said Pakistan had come into existence in the name of Islam and no law in the country could go against the Holy Quran and Sunnah.

The court’s verdict was in accordance with the Constitution, which was subservient to the Quran and Sunnah, he said.

Mr Khan regretted that the demonstrators had termed the chief justice “liable to be killed” and had called for a rebellion against the army chief “because he is a non-Muslim”.

In effect, the demonstrators were saying they would not accept the court’s verdicts if they went against their aspirations, said the prime minister. “If they take to the streets and block the roads, whose loss will it be?”

The losers would be the poor people, he said. “When the country will come to a standstill, how will the daily wage earner get bread for his family,” he asked.

A “new Pakistan” could only emerge if the nation followed what he called the “principles of state of Madina”.

His government, he said, had promptly complained to the Dutch government when a plan for organising a competition of blasphemous sketches had been announced in that European country. The issue was raised at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the competition was ultimately put off.

The foreign minister also raised the matter at the United Nations, he said. As a result, the European Court of Human Rights declared for the first time that blasphemy of Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) did not come under the purview of freedom of expression.

“We showed practically that we cannot tolerate any blasphemy against our Holy Prophet (PBUH),” remarked Mr Khan.

How could any government be run properly if some individuals called for assassination of the chief justice and a rebellion against the army chief, the prime minister wondered. He pointed out that the country was facing a financial crisis.

Mr Khan also praised the army and its chief for successfully steering the country out of a war with terrorists by rendering great sacrifices.

Earlier, Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa called on Mr Khan and discussed the law and order situation with him.

Published in Dawn, November 1st, 2018