Leaders of the PTI on Wednesday lambasted the coalition government — particularly the PML-N — for "using religion to instil and spread hatred" against party chief and former prime minister Imran Khan.
"PML-N is running an organised and planned campaign to make Imran Khan controversial [for the people]," former religious affairs minister Noorul Haq Qadri said at a press conference in Islamabad, alongside fellow PTI leaders Asad Qaiser and Iftikhar Durrani.
His comments came hours after PML-N leader Javed Latif, in a press conference, accused the PTI chief of "attacking the basic principles of Islam" by "supporting" the Ahmediyya community during his tenure.
"When Imran made the Naya Pakistan, units of Qadianis became active in Karachi [...] Did Imran not give interviews to the foreign media in which he said that Qadianis will be given religious freedom," Latif said.
Condemning Latif's remarks, Qadri said: "When I joined Imran Khan, it was not just for his political ideology but also his religious ideology," he said, recalling that the policies formed during the PTI government's tenure were proof of his love and respect toward the Holy Prophet (PBUH).
Qadri went on to say that the "war being waged by the government was very dangerous as it would create divisions and violence". "These are the people who want to spread hatred and chaos in the land," he added.
Similarly, former National Assembly speaker Asad Qaiser said that Latif's statements today were aimed at instigating religious hatred among the people. "This is condemnable."
Imran, he said, was currently at the height of his popularity. "PTI is the only party which signifies unity today because it has members from all religious sects and cultures," he said.
"Today, we are here to tell you that when we were in the government, and even today, you have seen our work for upholding Islam and the Prophet (PBUH)," Qaiser added.
Meanwhile, former federal minister Iftikhar Durrani said that the government was violating the National Action Plan and Constitution by spreading "religious hatred".
"Today, the incumbent government is complicit in this crime through Javed Latif. I seriously condemn it. The foundation of the PML-N is based on dictatorship [...] they have never fought any battle through democracy.
"Whenever their political opponents become powerful, they always indulge in personal attacks. A similar attack was done today and it was an escalation," Durrani pointed out.
He recalled that PML-N had always levelled personal attacks at Imran. "And this shows that the PDM (Pakistan Democratic Party) has lost."
The PTI leader also castigated the chairman of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) for not stopping television channels from airing Latif's press conference.
"I request all the channels that aired this presser: a very dangerous and heinous game is being played and PML-N has several people to play it. Latif is one of them."
Furthermore, Durrani told the PML-N that he handled the media of PTI and warned that "if I start doing these things, you won't be able to leave your houses".
"But this is not what we have been taught. We have been taught to fight you on political grounds. We have not been taught to make personal attacks," he added.
Earlier this week, PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz uploaded two purported statements of Imran Khan on her Twitter account.
She also tweeted saying: “This man (Imran) is using religion for his politics and promoting his false narrative. Save your faith and the country from this satan.”
According to the PTI, after Maryam’s tweet, a trend on Twitter against Imran Khan accusing him of blasphemy followed with over 65,000 tweets targeting the PTI chairman. There were also tweets critical of Maryam suggesting her not to drag religion into politics that might endanger someone’s life.
“We will not let this matter go unnoticed. Legal action will be taken against Maryam Nawaz for using the tool of blasphemy to endanger the life of the PTI chairman,” PTI’s senior leader Fawad Chaudhry had declared.
Subsequently, in a talk with Dawn, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry said: “The coalition government is probably the only government that is using blasphemy laws against political opponents blatantly. Using religion cards is the most blatant attempt to physically eliminate political opponents and Maryam Nawaz and Fazlur Rehman are creating this web to physically eliminate Imran Khan.”