Imran Khan wants to take up the issue of Dutch cartoons at UN

Updated 28 August 2018

Imran Khan wants to take up the issue of Dutch cartoons at UN

  • The prime minister said it was not right to hurt the sentiment of any community, regardless of their faith
  • The Dutch prime minister has already distanced himself from Geert Wilders’ initiative

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan pledged on Monday to take up at the United Nations the issue of a cartoon competition, announced by a rightwing, anti-Islam politician in the Netherlands who wants the participants to make mocking images of Prophet Muhammad.

Khan was talking to the upper house, the senate, after the house passed unanimously a resolution against a blasphemous cartoon competition.

Khan described the recurrence of such incidents in Europe as a “collective failure” of Muslim countries, adding it was important to galvanize them to tackle the challenge and present a unified perspective on the subject to the international community.

In his maiden speech to the Senate as the country’s prime minister, Khan emphasized the need to deal with the issue at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

He questioned the notion of freedom of expression in such matters, highlighting its limitations in Europe itself where it is not legally permissible in certain countries to deviate from the officially accepted accounts of the Jewish holocaust.

Khan said it was not right to hurt the sentiment of any community, regardless of their faith.

He noted that it was also imperative for others to honor Muslim sensitivities in the same spirit since it was difficult for the follower of Islam to tolerate mocking depictions of their Prophet.

Geert Wilders, leader of the Dutch Freedom Party, had pledged to hold the cartoon competition at his party’s parliamentary offices, claiming: “Freedom of speech is threatened, especially for Islam critics. We should never accept that. Freedom of speech is our most important freedom.”

More recently, Pakistan’s Foreign Office had summoned the charge d’affaires of Netherlands to register “strong protest” against the idea of holding such a contest.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has already claimed that Wilders is “not a member of the government,” adding that the competition is not an official initiative.

PM pledges full support for Punjab CM Buzdar as party shows cracks

Updated 26 January 2020

PM pledges full support for Punjab CM Buzdar as party shows cracks

  • PTI’s KP chief on Sunday expelled three cabinet members for creating pressure against him
  • Political analysts say main challenge for government is to keep its coalition partners intact

LAHORE/ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan vowed to fully support Punjab’s Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar and quashed any questions of his replacement in a ministerial meeting in Lahore on Sunday amid reports of growing differences within the party, according to a lawmaker present at the meeting. 
Earlier, a group of 20 dissident lawmakers of the ruling party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) in Punjab-- Pakistan’s biggest province-- demanded Buzdar improve governance of the province and ensure a fair distribution of development funds among the districts.
“The Prime Minister said that Buzdar enjoyed his full support and any change in Punjab set-up would create trouble for the party,” a senior leader of the PTI and member of the national assembly Raja Riaz told Arab News.
“He said that Buzdar would continue as Punjab Chief Minister and the party has no plans of changing him,” Riaz said.
The Prime Minister’s support for Buzdar comes on the same day three senior ministers of PTI’s provincial government in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province were expelled, reportedly to quell party differences. In media reports, the ministers have been accused of creating a forward bloc against KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan. 
KP’s sacked ministers include Muhammad Atif Khan, who looked after sports, culture and tourism; Shahram Khan Tarakai, who was responsible for the provincial health sector; and Shakeel Ahmed, who held the portfolio of revenue and estate.
According to prominent political analysts in Pakistan, the political moves signal that leaders of the ruling party are losing control of their lawmakers due to bad governance and a failure to improve the economy to benefit the common man.
“The cracks in the ruling party show a total failure of governance,” Adnan Rehmat, a political analyst, told Arab News. “PTI leaders, including the prime minister, have been living in a bubble while the people have been suffering for their inaction.”
Rehmat said that differences in ruling parties start emerging when they fail to deliver and meet public expectations. 
“The provincial ministers who are fired were apparently lobbying to gain more privileges and authority, but the leadership seems to have taken it as a violation of party discipline,” he said.
Now it seems, the ruling party’s problems are not only limited to its own lawmakers. The party’s coalition partners have also been voicing concerns over governance and performance. A key cabinet member of the government from Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) resigned from his position earlier this month, saying the government had not fulfilled their demands.
“The coalition governments have been inherently weak in nature as the partners always try to extract maximum concessions and benefits from the ruling party,” Zaigham Khan, a political analyst, told Arab News.
“Now with each passing day, public pressure and demands of its coalition partners will increase, and this government will become more unstable,” he said.
“Main challenge for this government is to keep its coalition partners intact in both the center and Punjab; otherwise the equation may change in the coming months,” he added.
“Imran Khan has fully supported Usman Buzdar as chief minister of the Punjab, but will it bridge the gulf among the party fellows?” senior journalist Salim Bokhari told Arab News. “That is the big question.”