Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, on his maiden appearance in the Senate said that the incidents of blasphemy in the West was a collective failure on behalf of the Muslim world. His remarks came after the house unanimously condemned the ‘Draw Muhammad Cartoon Competition’ by Geert Wilders, an anti-Islam Dutch lawmaker.
“We have failed to convey to the world how much it pains the Muslims across the globe by sacrilege of their Holy Prophet (peace be upon him),” he said.
“The House considers that the proposed competition is tantamount to inciting hatred, racial prejudice, unrest, conflict and insecurity in a world that has already seen much bloodshed, racism, extremism, intolerance and Islamophobia and badly needs peace, interfaith harmony, mutual respect and tolerance,” the resolution said. It was moved by new Leader of the House Shibli Faraz on behalf of all the parties.
“Since under the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973, Islam is the state religion and it is the responsibility of the State to preserve, protect and promote Islam, therefore, it must stand up and articulate the general will of the Muslims of Pakistan against the proposed competition,” the resolution said.
The house recommended that a formal protest may be lodged with the Dutch government through its embassy in Islamabad and a special session of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) be convened to formally engage the European Union, United Nations and individual states to chalk out limits of freedom of expression to maintain global peace, harmony and tolerance while ensuring freedom of expression within reasonable and lawful limitations dictated by the common good of humanity at large.
The house also asked the government to agitate the issue at the UN General Assembly for developing global consensus against such blasphemous initiatives by a handful of mischief-mongers whose sole aim seemed to be creating communal discord and social unrest. It said the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony should constitute a committee of Muslim intellectuals and experts to deliberate on the issue and frame workable proposals for preventing blasphemous movies, cartoons, books and other such content.
The prime minister said the matter would be raised at the UN General Assembly session in September as well, but noted that bringing the Muslim world on one page first was the better way to let the world know how seriously the Muslims across the globe took the issue.
He gave a promise to plan to steer the country out of vicious circle where it was forced to borrow money for debt servicing, saying that curtailing expenses and opening new avenues of income was the way forward.
He said parliament would be told how the government wanted to collect taxes. “We need to change our mindset. Tax money of people is not for our royal-like extravagant lifestyle.”
Earlier, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, at a press conference, dissociated his government from a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest organized in November by anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders.
“He is not a member of the government. The competition is not a government initiative,” he said. The comments arrived after authorities in Pakistan voiced their anger regarding the upcoming event to take place right-wing Party for Freedom’s heavily guarded offices at the Dutch parliament.