Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry while addressing a press conference in Karachi on Sunday warned that the government would not turn a blind eye to, nor forget, the inciteful speeches made by religiopolitical leaders during protests against the acquittal of Aasia Bibi last week.
"No one should have the impression that the government will forgive this behaviour," he said. "The impression that this government is weak will be removed as we take further action."
"The way that our people's property was damaged, the way that judges of the top court, the Pakistan Army and the government were ─ the kind of speeches that were made, the government will not ignore or forget them," Chaudhry asserted.
"Although the issue was resolved via a strategy, we will not forget the people who were involved," he said.
"This is not a matter of religion, it is related to rebellion. Should the state ignore mutiny? The credibility of a state that ignores rebellion is questionable. Therefore, we cannot turn a blind eye to it."
"The way the Constitution, the people, the political leadership, the military and judiciary were held in contempt, it is unlikely that we will forgive it," he added.
"We've seen that being in government has its challenges. Dealing with those challenges is our day-to-day responsibility. There are people who sit 'outside' [the government] who think they can give all the solutions, but the choices that are available to you are not so broad," he explained.
"What was happening was before you: hundreds of people were shutting down streets. The government had two options: we could have used state powers, but there was a fear that damage would be incurred, and if that happened, then we would have been criticised and questioned as to why we did it. So we did 'firefighting'," he said, using a word he employed earlier to refer to damage control.
"This doesn't mean that any Pakistani or the government can approve the conduct that was witnessed here. This was firefighting. We reopened the cities without any damage. But this is not a solution."
Development in Sindh
Chaudhry called on Sindh Governor Imran Ismail today, Radio Pakistan reported. Both leaders discussed the investment climate in the province, incentivising investment, federal government projects for Karachi, a development package announced by the prime minister for Karachi and other issues of mutual interest.
At the press conference, Chaudhry said that the biggest subject under discussion with a United Arab Emirates delegation that had visited recently was the resolution of Karachi's drinking water problem.
"Karachi's infrastructure ─ each time they say stop interfering in provincial matters," he said, referring to the Sindh government. "But neither do you give the people anything, nor do you allow us to give them anything. This is not on."
"The people of Karachi and Sindh have placed their trust in us... and whatever the federal government gives to the people in interior Sindh, we will give to the urban dwellers in Sindh," he said.
'Sindh govt using political victimisation tactics'
The information minister, who met with Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) parliamentarians in Sindh today, said there were complaints that the Sindh government was employing tactics of political victimisation, "but this has been a trend with the PPP, and we have seen 'gunda raj' in Sindh, and dealing with it necessary."
Chaudhry lashed out at the PPP, saying there was a stark difference between today's PPP and that led by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
"The way they put money in poor people's bank accounts... The poor people should claim it and refuse to return it," he alleged, referring to multiple reports regarding large sums of money being recovered by investigation agencies from bank accounts belonging to a falooda vendor and a rickshaw driver.
"Whenever we say that thieves should be thrown in jail, Khursheed Shah leaves the Assembly, but we don't even name anyone," he added.