Prime Minister Imran Khan addressed the nation earlier today, giving a detailed update on the prevalent security situation in the country. He said that he decided to do this after the tense situation last week.
PM said Pakistan is the only country to have been made in the name of Islam. “I have travelled the entire Pakistan. Our people love the Prophet (PBUH) with all their heart. Whenever there is anything blasphemous, we do not tolerate it. Any Muslim in any part of the world gets hurt by such blasphemous content. We are no different.”
PM Khan said that last week, the TLP tried to show as if it loves the Prophet (PBUH) more than others. “What the TLP wants, we also want — i.e. no blasphemy against our Prophet (PBUH),” but he stated that the approach is and should be different to dealing with the issue.
“TLP has demanded that the French Ambassador should be sent back, ” the PM said, “we have a different approach from them but our (government’s) goal is the same.”
He repeatedly stated that he understands the way western countries think and nothing we do in our country will change the way the West thinks. “I understand the West and this approach will not help. The West has made this an issue of freedom of speech and this (riots in Pakistan) will not make a difference to France.”
He then stated the loss of life and property that the violent riots had caused in Pakistan. “Four police officers lost their lives and 800 were injured, ” Khan stated, “40 police cars were burnt and millions of rupees in damages were caused to personal properties.” He also stated that many oxygen cylinders were not able to make it to corona patients due to the riots.
He then explained his approach to the nation. “Our rupee is finally stabilising, our economy is getting better. When we send France’s ambassador back, we break relations with the European Union (EU),” he emphasised, “Which means we lose our textile exports to the EU. This means we lose jobs and poverty will increase. We will lose, not France.”
He explained that he had been developing his approach since 2019 when he first addressed the United Nations and told the world that the actions of the West hurt the Muslim world. Therefore, he suggests that the Muslim world come together and in a united front, state that blasphemy against the Holy Prophet (PBUH) is unacceptable. He went on to say that if the West does not stop hurting Muslim sentiments – like they have for the Jews and the Holocaust – then the Muslim world should boycott trade with the West.
“We tried to explain this to TLP,” Khan said, “We were in discussions with them and said we can bring this up in the assembly. But we realised they were preparing for something else and soon thereafter, they announced that they would do a dharna. Which is when our discussions with them stopped.”
Khan also made a pertinent point as to the riots affecting Pakistan and no one else. “The crime happens somewhere else, and we hurt ourselves? How does that make sense?” he asked, “We need to come together. Our economy is getting better. The country is going in the right direction. This is not the time to hurt our country.”
PM Khan also gave the example of former PM Nawaz Sharif not raising his voice against Salman Rushdie and his blasphemous book, ‘The Satanic Verses’. “I am speaking up against blasphemy done by the West but former PM Nawaz Sharif did not when Salman Rushdie’s book came out.”
PML-N’s Ahsan Iqbal later tweeted that the book did not in fact come out during the tenure of Sharif. It came out in 1988. Sharif came to power in 1990.