Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Prof Ahsan Iqbal said the recent attack on Imran Khan was a wake-up call while comparing the same kind of attack on him by a young man who was also religiously motivated and from a similar socio-economic background.
He was speaking in a Twitter Space titled, “How to end politics of hate and violence in the country”, organized by Naya Daur, a web-based media platform. People from different walks of life participated in the Twitter Space and later questions and answers session was also held.
The planning minister, while commenting on the topic, highlighted the attacks on former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz, Khawaja Asif, and several other leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) through a proper campaign initiated by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
Expressing his regret over Imran Khan’s response to these attacks, Ahsan Iqbal said, at that time, the PTI chief, instead of condemning the incidents, declared them an expression of public anger against the PML-N.
Moreover, he added, during the election campaign in general elections of 2018, PTI tried to gain political advantage by imposing fabricated allegations against his faith.
At that time, the ministers said, he had highlighted the growing extremist mindset in the society to the then National Security Committee and urged the then government to take strict action against such extremist elements.
He further said when Imran Khan was attacked, the nation as a whole condemned the act but Imran Khan played politics over the incident. Consequently, Imran khan bore the brunt of that spark of extremism in society, remarked the minister, while emphasizing to eliminate the polarization from the society which had been destroying the society and the country.
Prof Iqbal further added that extremism in a society was a common threat to all and no one would be able to bear it. He also highlighted several steps taken by the PML-N government during the previous tenure, particularly to mitigate the extremist mindset from the society.
The projects launched for the purpose included reforms in the education sector, improvement in the justice system, incentives for the youth, and mitigating the economic disparity in the society, he added. Unfortunately, the PTI government stopped all projects, said the minister, while appreciating Naya Daur for arranging a talk on the topic.
Furthermore, Ahsan Iqbal emphasized pluralism and acceptance of others’ ideas and opinions. Putting this in perspective, he mentioned, “if you paint things in black and white then society would consider others as evil, resultantly, society will be going toward extremism”.
Similarly, he used an analogy to explain it to the Twitter audience that if one leader tagged himself righteous and labeled a political rival as evil; deemed himself a believer and others as nonbelievers, the society would consequently lead toward violence. The minister urged the younger generation to accept the opinion of their rivals. Do not hate someone merely for their opinion, he said, adding that it is the right of the individuals to not agree with someone, but hating someone just for his different opinion is deplorable. “We have to think whether Pakistan can bear such kind of internal disharmony, and we need to make efforts for collaborative harmonization in the society,” he added.
Responding to a question over fake information on social media, the minister urged the audience to check the authenticity of the news first before spreading it on social media as fake news is a big challenge.