Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Sunday stressed that recent protests had "nothing to do with religion, but were about politics", and urged religious leaders and members of society to take ownership of a fight against 'extremist ideologies'.
During a press briefing in Lahore regarding the upcoming 'Rehmatul-il-Alameen Conferences' being held nationwide this month, the minister described love for the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) as the foundation of Islam and claimed that "a group of people is trying to misuse the issue for political gain".
Chaudhry asserted that recent protests had "nothing to do with religion, but were about politics". He claimed that certain groups "play politics in the name of religion", and that "religion had nothing to do with all this activity".
He questioned why a "particular segment of society needs to use this issue for its politics" and does so by "bringing up a new issue every week".
The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader was of the opinion that recent protests following the acquittal of Aasia Bibi by the Supreme Court were not a crisis for the government, but the symptom of a crisis being faced by society.
Describing the situation as a "fight of ideologies", the information minister claimed that these groups are "taking advantage of religious leaders' and society's lack of ownership of this fight".
"When you can't present an argument against a different argument, and you are protesting against a Supreme Court verdict which no one has read, then there an ideological crisis takes birth," Chaudhry said.
"The state's failure was that it cannot safeguard those who had a counter-argument. One side had an argument and they also had weapons, while people on the other side were unarmed. Until the state can ensure a level playing field, the issue cannot be resolved," he said.
He encouraged people belonging to religious segments of society and other citizens to come forward to counter such groups.
"The first rebellion against these people should have come from religious segments [in society], but unfortunately it is not the case because of certain facts," he said. "Keep in mind, it is a fight of ideas, and the war of ideologies is not fought with weapons but with arguments."
He added that it is the responsibility of the state to ensure the availability of an environment where everyone can present their arguments.
"We are holding a 'Rehmatul-il-Alameen Conference' at a national level for the first time," Chaudhry said, adding that Prime Minister Imran Khan would inaugurate the event on Nov 20.
Last week, Prime Minister Imran Khan, while speaking to the Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri, had said that the government wishes to present an image of peaceful Islam before the world, Radio Pakistan reported.
He said that it was the responsibility of the state to present the true teachings of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) to the next generation, the report added.
For this purpose, 'Rehmatul-il-Alameen Conferences' will be held across the country, while a two-day 'Khatm-i-Nabuwwat International Conference' will be held in Islamabad, he said, adding that the Imam-i-Kaaba, Vice Chancellor of Egypt's Al-Azhar University, the Mufti of Syria, and religious scholars from Iraq and Tunisia will be in attendance and shed light on different aspects of the life of the Holy Prophet (PBUH).
PM Khan had also said that research on the life of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) would be promoted under the government's supervision.
Arrangements for Eid-i-Miladun Nabi
Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri, while chairing a meeting of the organising committee for conference preparations on Saturday, had said that the occasion of Eid-i-Miladun Nabi would be celebrated with due honour and respect, Radio Pakistan reported.
He said that special functions and ceremonies would be arranged during Rabiul Awwal in which the life and teachings of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) would be highlighted.
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry had said that arrangements would be made for the coverage of processions taken out on the 12th of Rabiul Awwal, and that state-owned PTV and Radio Pakistan would air qirat, naats and other programmes on the occasion, along with special programmes to highlight the Holy Prophet's (PBUH) teachings.
The month of Rabiul Awwal began on Saturday, Nov 10, and Eid-i-Miladun Nabi will fall on Nov 21.