‘Religiously motivated’ attack on Imran 'wake-up call': Ahsan Iqbal

Accuses PTI chief of ‘fanning’ extremist mindset during his govt

Our Correspondent November 09, 2022
Ahsan Iqbal. PHOTO: PID


Federal Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal termed the recent gun attack on PTI chief Imran Khan “a wake-up call” and compared it to the attack of a “similar nature” on him in 2018 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”.

The planning minister criticised the former ruling party and accused it of initiating campaigns that led to attacks on several PML-N leaders in the past, including Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz. However, regretted that Imran at the time had acted “nonchalant” and instead of condemning them, went on to blame the PML-N for inviting the public anger.

Moreover, during the election campaign in the general elections of 2018, PTI sought to further his political interests by investing heavily in fabricated allegations regarding his faith, Iqbal said.

At the time, the ministers recalled, he had highlighted the growing extremist mindset in the society to the then National Security Committee (NSC) and urged the then government to take strict action against such extremist elements.

He also deplored the Wazirabad incident and said the nation as a whole condemned the act but Imran Khan “played politics” over it.

“Consequently, Imran bore the brunt of that spark of extremism in society,” the minister said and stressed the need to eliminate polarisation from the society which had been destroying the society and the country.

Iqbal further added that extremism in 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.

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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 society. "Unfortunately, the PTI government stopped all projects," the PML-N leader regretted.

Furthermore, Ahsan Iqbal emphasised 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 warned that if one leader gives himself the tag of “righteous” while marking down political rivals as “evil”, and deemed himself a believer and others as nonbelievers, the society would eventually head towards 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 about 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.

Responding to another question, Iqbal underscored the importance of political stability in the country as it is a prerequisite for development and growth.


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