VIDEO: Severing ties with France will damage Pakistan’s relations with EU, Imran tells nation after TLP protests - GulfToday

VIDEO: Severing ties with France will damage Pakistan’s relations with EU, Imran tells nation after TLP protests

Imran khan 2

Imran Khan chairs cabinet meeting in Islamabad. File

Tariq Butt, Correspondent

Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Monday that he and the protesting proscribed Tehrik-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) have the same objectives that there was no blasphemy against the Holy Prophet (PBUH) but their methods were different.

"Severing ties with France will damage Pakistan’s relations with European Union (EU) which will also damage our economy and exports,” he said in his address to the nation in which he discussed the prevailing situation amid violent protests held by the banned TLP across Pakistan.

"After much difficulties, the country's economy is reviving, the rupee is stabilising, inflation in coming down, if we sever ties with France it will mean that our ties with the EU will be severed and doing so will hurt Pakistan's textile industry as most of our textile products exported to European countries,” the prime minister said.

He said he decided to address the nation due to the "regrettable" incidents that took place in the country over the last week, referring to violence perpetrated by activists of the recently proscribed TLP after their leader Saad Rizvi's arrest and the ensuing government crackdown.

"Our country is the only one which was founded in the name of Islam, what was its slogan? 'Pakistan ka matlab kia, La Ilaha Illallah'," he said.

Imran has revealed that “external forces” tried to exploit violent TLP protests by spreading fake news on social media platforms. “We have reviewed 400,000 tweets, 70% of which came from fake accounts,” he said.


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Imran said the Holy Prophet (PBUH) lived in the hearts of the people of Pakistan. "That is why whenever any disrespect is attempted to his name anywhere in the world, it hurts us," he added, saying Muslims around the world are also pained by such acts.

Speaking about the events of the past week, he said "It appeared as if one party loves the Prophet (PBUH) more than other Pakistanis. I assure you that the purpose of the TLP for which they're bringing people out, that is my purpose as well and that of my government," he added.

TLP-Policeclash-750x450Workers of the banned outfit clash with police in Lahore. AFP

He said like the TLP, the government too wanted that there was no blasphemy against the Prophet (PBUH) in any country. "Only our methods are different," he said, noting that while the TLP wanted the French ambassador to be expelled and Pakistan's relations to be severed with France, his government had adopted a different strategy.

"Around 1990, Salman Rushdie wrote a book in which he disrespected our Prophet. The public came out on Pakistani streets, the American embassy was attacked and people were martyred too. After that, you can see [in history] that after every few years, someone in any Western country does blasphemy against him. Muslims are hurt, there are reactions abroad too and demonstrations here in our country as well but the same process continues after every few years. Has this approach made any difference?" the premier asked, saying the TLP was protesting in the manner seen in the past as well.

Imran asked whether sending the French ambassador back and cutting off all ties with them would stop this? Is there any guarantee that no one will commit blasphemy after that?”
The prime minister said even if Pakistan took steps against France, the same disrespect could be done in any other European country "in the name of freedom of opinion."

"There they've made it an issue of freedom of expression and on that basis, they will also commit blasphemy if we take action against France. So will we send the ambassador of that country back too?"

He noted that no such demonstrations or demands to expel the French envoy were seen in other Muslim countries. "So firstly, this will have no effect on France but let me tell you what difference it will make to Pakistan. The biggest effect will be that after great difficulty our economy is rising, the large-scale industry is getting up after a long time, people are getting jobs, wealth is increasing in our country, our exports are rising and after a long time, our rupee is strengthening. If we send the French ambassador back and end relations with them then this means we will break relations with the European Union," he explained.

"ln our country it is a great misfortune that many times our political parties and religious parties use Islam wrongly and use it such that they deal damage to their own country,” the prime minister said adding that violent actions did not benefit Islam in any way and no loss was dealt to the country in which the blasphemous act was committed. Instead, only Pakistan suffered a loss, he said. "Violent protests in Pakistan will make no difference to the country where the blasphemous act has occurred."

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