–Info Minister Fawad says those spreading hatred in name of religion have no moral standing, Opp parties showed ‘political maturity’
–Says govt will compensate for losses during riots, intends to find permanent solution to ‘sit-ins’
— Says PM’s China visit ‘as successful as that to Saudi Arabia’, Pakistan and China to do business in Yuan instead of US dollar
LAHORE: Federal Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry on Monday said that those who were spreading hate in the name of religion have nothing to do with it, as he lauded the opposition parties for supporting the government during the recent protests.
He said this while addressing a press conference in the provincial capital about the recent countrywide protests following a Supreme Court verdict acquitting Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman who had been sentenced to death on blasphemy charges.
“The protesters were damaging property in the name of Islam, but had no moral standing,” he said, adding that “those who were spreading hate in the name of religion have nothing to do with it”.
Regarding the agreement between the government and Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) leaders which ended the sit-ins across the country, Chaudhry said, “There were two ways to deal with the protesters.”
“If we sent forces then it would have been said that the government transgressed. We had to normalise the situation and should be credited for resolving the issue wisely,” the information minister further said.
“We want to resolve issues and will have to end sit-ins as it is not acceptable that two to three thousand people shutdown a city,” he added.
LAHORE: Federal Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry addressing a press conference in Lahore. INP PHOTO
Furthermore, Chaudhry said, “Prime Minster Imran Khan truly loves Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) and has never even worn shoes while visiting Medina. He does not need a certificate from anyone.”
Stating that “the state of Medina is our model”, the information minister said, “We will give all citizens, including minorities, their due rights.”
Chaudhry said that all segments of the society — including those belonging to religious circles — had condemned the inciteful speeches and violence during the protests.
He said that the federal government has directed all provinces to submit data regarding damage to property during the protests and provide details of the rioters by Monday night.
He assured that the government would compensate those who had suffered losses during the riots.
Chaudhry referred to a video showing protesters looting a child selling bananas on a push cart which had gone viral on social media, and questioned the moral standing of the demonstrators.
“The way they (protesters) pulled rickshaw drivers out [of their vehicles] and set fire to their rickshaws, mistreated women by dragging them out of their cars and setting the cars alight [shows] that they don’t have any moral values,” he said.
GOVT APPRECIATES OPP’S SUPPORT:
Fawad Chaudhry further appreciated the opposition, including the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), for showing “political maturity” by standing with the government during the protests.
“[The opposition parties] told the world that Pakistan is united,” the minister said.
Speaking about Pakistan’s space mission, the information minister said, “There are some politicians who are creating chaos on ground and should be sent to space.”
“I will ask SUPARCO to ensure that once these politicians go to space, they cannot return,” he added.
In response to a question, the information minister said that the government did not support censorship. However, he expressed hope that social media channels would cooperate with the government to curb online hate speech and religious hatred.
Chaudhry said that while the government had a relationship with Facebook — that had taken action against “hundreds of accounts” for spreading hate speech — there was no agreement with Twitter to monitor accounts that promote religious hatred.
Furthermore, Chaudhry said, “We do not have any big fight with opposition parties.”
“Our only point of contention is that the opposition wants an NRO [National Reconciliation Ordinance] and we cannot give that.”
He continued, “The opposition wants that corruption cases against them should not be taken forward and the All Parties Conference (APC) is also taking place for this reason. But this is Pakistan’s money and has to be returned.”
“Nobody should expect us to stop or back-off from the cases,” Chaudhry asserted.
“In the past, accountability was used for politics. However, the current government is not using accountability as a political means on any level,” he added.
“PM Imran is a leader who needs no favours. He will not even take one rupee and neither will his children,” the information minister said.
PM’S TRIP TO CHINA:
The information minister said that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to China had been “as successful as that to Saudi Arabia”.
He further said that “China has always stood by Pakistan,” adding that “we praise China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) at home and even did in China”.
He said that further details of the trip would be disclosed by the ministers of finance and planning upon the conclusion of the official visit.
He disclosed that it had been agreed that trade with China would be conducted in the Yuan instead of the US Dollar.
“Trade in dollar exposes the national economy to risk that ultimately leads to financial burden,” said the minister.
The PM is in China on a four-day visit to review the entire range of bilateral relations and to participate in the First China International Import Expo in Shanghai.
“Relations are between countries not leaders and Pakistan has great relations with China, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.”
“Prime Minister Imran Khan is playing a historic role in the Middle East crisis,” he added.
“The country should be proud that they got a great leader in the form of PM Imran,” the information minister said. “After several years, Pakistan has got a leader in which the Islamic countries have confidence in.”
“The Islamic countries are turning towards PM Imran to resolve their issues,” he added.
“Talks on Yemen have moved forward and we have included stakeholders. A strong plan of action will come forward on the matter and resolving the Muslim Ummah’s conflicts is a key part of our foreign policy,” the information minister said.