Prime Minister Imran Khan Monday said the whole Muslim world’s collective voice and threat for trade boycott could put a stop to blasphemy as protest demonstrations would damage nothing but Pakistan’s booming economy.
“Will expulsion of the French ambassador and cutting ties with them will stop this (blasphemy)? Is there any guarantee that no one will do it again? I know the West, if Pakistan does it (expels the French envoy), some other European country will do it again in the name of freedom of expression,” the prime minister said in his televised address to the nation.
Referring to the protest demonstrations by Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TLP), amidst their negotiations with the government, the prime minister said the riots had killed four police personnel and injured another over 800, besides 40 police vans were gutted and damage to private properties.
He said though the objective of both the government and TLP was to get rid of the blasphemy, the latter’s approach was counter-productive.
“When we will expel the French ambassador and cut ties (with France), it means we will cut ties with the whole of European Union. This means half of our textile exports will come down. This will create unemployment and the rupee will be under pressure thus creating inflation and poverty. We will be on the losing end, not France,” the prime minister remarked.
The prime minister said contrary to the TLP’s strategy of getting the demands fulfilled through agitation, he viewed that the heads of all Muslim states should make it clear at the forums in European Union and Western states as to why the Muslims got hurt by the blasphemy.
“The West does not understand. They do not even love the prophets the way we do with our Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him). Even, they are not attached to the religion (the way we are). They will have to be made it understood,” he stressed.
Imran Khan made it clear that the protest demonstrations would make a difference only to Pakistan, not France.
Currently, he said, Pakistan’s economy was on the boom with its large-scale industry getting better, creating jobs and wealth, and rupee getting strengthened.
He said last week, a party tried to show as they loved the Holy Prophet (PBUH) more than the others did.
He said he also desired that there should be no blasphemy of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) but the difference was about the method.
The prime minister told the countrymen that for the last two and half months, the government was in negotiations with the TLP trying to make them understand that their strategy would make Pakistan suffer.
The government, he said, had also decided to present their demands in the (National) Assembly but simultaneously, the party announced to hold a sit-in in Islamabad linking it with the expulsion of French envoy, which disrupted the talks and led to the arrest of its leaders.
He questioned whether any Muslim head of state spoke about the blasphemous book of Salman Rushdie. The sitting government at that time or any political leader in Pakistan, including Nawaz Sharif also did not talk about the book, he added.
He said Pakistan was the only state created in the name of Islam and he had found all of its citizens with a deep reverence for Holy Prophet (PBUH), even if they were not firm practicing Muslims.
He (Muslims) not only in Pakistan rather the whole Muslim world felt pained consequent to blasphemy in any part of the world.
The prime minister said after the publication of Salman Rushdie’s book, the incidents of blasphemy had been taking place in the Western countries after every few years triggering protests in the Muslim world.
“Did this approach bring any difference? The TLP is also doing the same,” he said.
Imran Khan said after the violent incidents, the enemies of Pakistan intervened in the matter. The government analyzed some 0.4 million tweets and found 70 percent of them made from fake accounts.
Propaganda, he said, was unleashed by India as was made evident by EU DisinfoLab, which revealed that 600 Indian websites were involved in fake propaganda particularly against Pakistan.
The prime minister said 380 groups from India were running fake news in the WhatsApp groups about the latest situation in Pakistan.
It was unfortunate that the opposition political party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl also got involved in the issue to destabilize the government and damage the country, he added.
Imran Khan said France would not be affected if Pakistan would send its ambassador back. He knew the West as he spent his life there, he added.
The prime minister said in the 14th OIC (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation)Summit in June 2019, he talked about Islamophobia and incidents of disrespect of Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
He also raised the issue at the United Nations General Assembly twice and told the world leaders as to how sentiments of more than one billion Muslims were hurt because of blasphemy, he added.
The government also raised the issue of Islamophobia at the UN Human Rights Commission and other human rights bodies, he noted.
Imran Khan said he wrote a letter to the CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg conveying to him that his social media platform should not be used for Islamophobia.
“I also wrote a letter to all heads of Islamic states and urged them to take joint action on the issue.”
The prime minister said the world should be made aware that the sentiments of Muslims were hurt when in the name of freedom, blasphemy was done against Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
The prime minister stated that Jews were less in number but they made it clear to the Western world that no negative comments should be made against the holocaust in which Jews were massacred.
The Western media could not talk against the holocaust and in four European countries people could be put in jail for talking against it (holocaust), he explained.
“We have to work collectively and make the world realize the sentiments of Muslims.”
Imran Khan said whenever Pakistanis protested, the West would think it was against freedom of expression and then the people there knowingly would do something to hurt the feelings of Muslims.
He said the way the TLP was acting would only damage Pakistan. He would take responsibility for the issue and the day was not far off when the West would realize the sentiments of Muslims, he added.
“I will lead the campaign and will not disappoint the nation and the Muslims, and the West will one day realize that what it is doing is wrong.”
He asked the Ulema to support the government as the violence was damaging the country. The enemy took benefit of the chaos in the country and the nation suffered, he added.
The prime minister said it was suicidal to damage the country when the incident of blasphemy took place in another country.
“We came out of a difficult time of two years, and now our economy is rising. Our direction is right so it is not the right time to cause damage to our country,” he added.
Pakistan was facing the third wave of coronavirus and the nation should follow the guidelines to tackle the disease, he concluded.