ISLAMABAD, Oct 10: There is a complete sectarian harmony in the country and the fresh wave of violence is the work of terrorists who are on the run and are trying to shatter peace, says federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Shaikh Rashid Ahmed.

The minister said this during a press conference at the PTV Headquarters on Sunday. He said: "There is no Shia-Sunni conflict in the country. Sialkot and Multan would have been reduced to a cinder by now if there was any involvement of sectarian elements in the recent incidents."

Pakistan, he said, was playing a crucial role as a frontline state in the war on terrorism, adding that some elements did not want to see the country's image improving in the comity of nations and wanted to destabilise the country.

"They (terrorists) want to spoil our image in the war against terrorism," he said. The minister condemned the killing of Mufti Jameel in Karachi but appreciated the peaceful behaviour of his followers during and after the funeral prayers for the religious scholar.

Commenting on the involvement of foreign elements in the killing of Mufti Jameel, a supporter of the Taliban movement, the minister said that the government would soon uncover culprits involved murder of the religious scholar notwithstanding their nationalities.

Referring to the violence in Multan and Sialkot, he said that foreign or local, everyone involved in these incidents would soon be apprehended. He said that the government had made some progress so far as the terrorist incident in Sialkot was concerned, adding that it was not a major breakthrough.

The minister clarified that the government was not considering banning religious gatherings and said that it had banned only the activities of banned outfits which had reappeared under new names and were spreading sectarianism and inciting hatred.

"We cannot ban the Raiwind gathering or the post-Taravih sermons in Ramazan. The ban is against those who are spreading slogans like 'kill or be killed' using loudspeakers," he said.

Referring to the government's move to arrest Ulema belonging to various sects, he said these were "precautionary". Sheikh Rashid dismissed the fears of the potential fallout after the killing of 70 people as a result of violence in the past 10 days.

"Like Pakistan, many other countries are not as safe for investment as they were before the start of the war on terror, but foreign investment is being made there. Why single out Pakistan?" he said.

About the tabling of the government's draft bill in the National Assembly aimed at allowing President Pervez Musharraf to retain the army post, he said it was part of a democratic process and the opposition would be given an opportunity to debate the bill.

Pakistan Muslim League, he said, had moved the bill in the best national interest. The recent promotions in the army, he said, had been made on merit and would have "a wholesome effect" on the institution.

The media, he said, was free and 34 more private television channels would be launched during the next year, adding that 24 of these channels belonged to owners of newspapers.

Opinion

Fear and abuse
Updated 23 Jun 2021

Fear and abuse

Paedophiles and sexual abusers are present in many professions but clerical sexual abuse is of a particularly egregious character.
Diplomatic blundering
Updated 23 Jun 2021

Diplomatic blundering

Foreign policy is too serious a matter to be left to an individual’s political ambitions.
Loss of homes
22 Jun 2021

Loss of homes

For the vulnerable, a shelter is much more than a dwelling.

Editorial

PM’s views on rape
Updated 23 Jun 2021

PM’s views on rape

Rape is a crime primarily of power rather than lust, rooted in a contempt for others’ bodily integrity.
23 Jun 2021

Gas concerns

CONSUMERS face the prospect of ominous blackouts next month owing to the closure of two gas fields in Sindh, the ...
23 Jun 2021

New Iranian president

SAYYID Ebrahim Raisi, Iran’s new president, is taking over at a time of great geopolitical flux, while the Islamic...
Describing OBL
22 Jun 2021

Describing OBL

FM Qureshi’s non-committal reply to question about Osama being a terrorist or a martyr has sent the wrong message to the world.
22 Jun 2021

A neglected sector

THE PTI legislators joined forces with opposition lawmakers in the National Assembly the other day to take their own...
22 Jun 2021

Air safari

THE resumption of PIA’s air safari flights to Skardu will hopefully attract international and domestic tourists,...