• Calls on western govts to outlaw negative comment against Holy Prophet
• Confiscation of TLP assets ordered
• Fawad terms imposing ban on TLP internal matter
ISLAMABAD: Western governments should treat the people who insult the Prophet (peace be upon him) the same as those who deny the Holocaust, Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Saturday.
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.”
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.
Mr 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, our staff reporter adds.
“Slapping ban on the TLP was the decision of the government of Pakistan and now the TLP is over,” the minister said, adding 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, Mr 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, Mr Chaudhry said, while making it clear that strict action would be taken against anyone who dared to blackmail government institutions or departments.
No plan to raze Jati Umra house
The minister said there was no plan to demolish any house in Jati Umra but nobody would be allowed to occupy government land illegally. He said actions were being taken in the light of a report presented to the PM a few months back that certain members of the National Assembly had occupied government land, including Khokhar brothers, who had occupied hundreds of kanals of land. Mr Chaudhry said the Punjab government acted on the inquiry, marked by PM and the lands worth billions of rupees were recovered from the encroachers. The Khokhar brothers had occupied the government land and built a palace, he said, adding that the names of senior members of the National Assembly including former lawmaker Daniyal Aziz were among those who were allegedly part of land mafia.
Referring to the action against the TLP protesters, Mr Chaudhry said: “I congratulate the interior ministry, ministry of religious affairs, police and other law enforcement agencies for maintaining law and order and to tackle the troublemakers of TLP.”
PM Khan appreciated the brave police, he said, adding that he himself started visiting hospitals to enquire after the health of the injured police officials on the orders of the prime minister.
He said loving Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was an integral part of the faith of every Muslim.
A query regarding Jahangir Tareen’s cases and his allegations, the minister said his was not the only case, as Babar Awan was also accused during the term of PTI government upon which he resigned and returned after clearing his name just as Aleem Khan did.
He said Mr Tareen had to prove his innocence in court. The government had no personal problem with him and he had no problem with the government, the minister said, while expressing the hope that he would fight his case in court as per law.
In reply to another question, Mr Chaudhry agreed that the police force was poorly equipped and suggested to the media that Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and PML-N, which had ruled five years each and spent Rs3 trillion, should be asked this question. “They should be asked, where was this colossal amount spent,” he remarked.
Earlier, the minister and others paid a visit to different wards of the DHQ Hospital and inquired after the health of police personnel who sustained injuries during clashes with TLP activists in the district.
Mr Chaudhry along with Dr Gill and Mr Kiyani also went to Benazir Bhutto Hospital where they met the injured cops and praised their bravery against the violent TLP protestors.
In a sharp reaction to the information minister’s statement, PML-N Information Secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb has said that before booking Mr Sanaulllah in a terrorism case, the ‘imposed’ PTI government must “prosecute Imran Khan who is an absconder in a terrorism case”.
In a series of tweets, she said a case was registered against Imran in 2014 for his violence inciting remarks, but he had not been arrested in the case to date. Such double standards would not be allowed, she added.
She recalled that Mr Khan’s threats to the then police chief, incitement to violence against police, statements such as grabbing police officials and the then PM by neck and dragging them out, shutting down the country, cussing the Parliament and telling people to attack state-TV were still echoing at D-Chowk.
Meanwhile, the Punjab home department has directed all deputy commissioners in the province to freeze or seize forthwith the properties belonging to the proscribed TLP.
In a letter addressed to all deputy commissioners/ conveners and district intelligence committees of Punjab, the home department said the interior ministry had proscribed TLP under Section 11-B (1) of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997and delegated powers exercisable under Section 11-O of the Act to the provincial home secretaries and the chief commissioner of Islamabad in their respective jurisdictions.
The home department directed the deputy commissioners to take action under Section 11-O of the ATA-1997 and freeze or seize all properties belonging to the TLP and submit updated status to the home department within 48 hours.
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) have already blocked the passport and computerised national identity card of TLP chief Saad Husain Rizvi, who was detained in Lahore by security forces to maintain law and order.
Aamir Yasin from Rawalpindi and Mansoor Malik from Lahore also contributed to this report
Published in Dawn, April 18th, 2021