IN the backdrop of heightened tension due to TLP issue, Prime Minister Imran Khan made a mark during his speech at a ceremony in the Federal Capital on Monday and address to the nation and his persuasive and reconciliatory arguments would go a long way in putting things in the right perspective.
He emphasized that the Government and the TLP have the same feelings and sentiments on the issue of blasphemy but their strategies are different.
He also recalled the measures taken by his Government to sensitize the international community on Islamophobia and vowed to unite the Muslim Ummah on the issue.
There are reasons to believe that the soft tone of the Prime Minister helped create a salutary environment for success of the dialogue process between delegations of the Government and the TLP.
According to Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad, as a consequence of the successful talks, the Government would move a resolution in the National Assembly for expulsion of the French Ambassador from Pakistan and cases registered against TLP workers under the Fourth Schedule will also be withdrawn.
This could mean that the main demand of the TLP regarding expulsion of the French Ambassador stands accepted, as there is hardly any possibility of any political party opposing the resolution in the given environment.
However, the tension could persist on the issue of banning the TLP and that is, perhaps, why the Minister, in his video statement, has said that talks would continue.
We believe that normalcy would return if all segments of the society give a serious thought to the points raised by the Prime Minister during his speech and the address to the nation.
Love for the Holy Prophet (PBUH) is universal among all believers and they have legitimate sentiments of penalizing all those who indulge in blasphemous acts in the garb of freedom of expression and speech.
However, it would be wrong for any segment of the society to take the law into its own hands and create problems for others as well as the country due to shortsighted approaches.
The Prime Minister has rightly pointed out that expulsion of Ambassador of one European country would not produce the desired result or impact as similar incidents could happen in other Western countries in the name of freedom of expression.
In fact, that is what we have observed during the last several years as after some interval someone in a Western country provokes Muslims by indulging in blasphemy.
Peaceful protests convey sentiments of Muslims to the world community but violence amounts to inflicting losses on our country and people.
However, collectively the leadership of the Muslim world has failed the Ummah as Muslims are discriminated and marginalized on the pretext of terrorism and extremism since long but the Muslim world has miserably failed in presenting a united response.
It is duty of organizations like the OIC and the Arab League to deliberate upon the issues of terrorism and Islamophobia in a comprehensive manner and come out with a collective response but they have become impotent entities.
There is no doubt that the Prime Minister spoke about Islamophobia first at the 14th summit of the OIC in June 2019 proposing a joint Muslim world plan to stop incidents of blasphemy, and later raised the same at the UN General Assembly in September that year as well as the 2020 UNGA.
He also wrote to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on “how Facebook shouldn’t be used for Islamophobia” and when blasphemous caricatures were published in France he wrote a letter to all Muslim heads of government urging them to take joint action on the issue.
However, these initiatives need to be backed by well thought out diplomatic strategy so that a concrete action plan is formulated and implemented by the Islamic world.
Trade boycott of the countries encouraging blasphemy can also prove effective provided it is done from the platform of OIC.
It is also time that the issue of violence in politics should be discussed in Parliament and a consensus evolved on how to address the challenge.
Finger-pointing by the Prime Minister notwithstanding, the fact remains no political party of the country exploited the situation created by TLP in its own favour, which is a positive and encouraging development and could form the basis for result-oriented outcome of the parliamentary debate.