Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan. (File)
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is being criticised for his recent remarks on “intolerance” in India, on Tuesday again tried to compare the treatment of minorities in his country and India. Khan said the minorities would be treated as equal citizens in “Naya Pakistan”, “unlike what is happening in India”.
Addressing an event to highlight the 100-day achievements of the Punjab government in Lahore, Khan on Sunday asserted that his government is taking steps to ensure that religious minorities in Pakistan get their due rights, which was also a vision of the country's founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah. The Pakistani prime minister had added thaṭ his government will make it sure that the minorities feel safe, protected and have equal rights in 'New Pakistan'. "We will show the Modi government how to treat minorities...Even in India, people are saying that minorities are not being treated as equal citizens," he said.
Khan’s latest comments came on the occasion of Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s birthday. “Naya Pakistan is Quaid’s Pakistan and will ensure that our minorities are treated as equal citizens, unlike what is happening in India,” he tweeted.
His struggle for a separate nation for Muslims only started when he realised that Muslims would not be treated as equal citizens by the Hindu majority. Naya Pak is Quaid's Pak & we will ensure that our minorities are treated as equal citizens, unlike what is happening in India. https://t.co/xFPo8ahJnp— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) December 25, 2018
He added that Jinnah had envisaged Pakistan as a “democratic, just and compassionate” nation.
Targeting India in another tweet, Khan said: “His (Jinnah’s) struggle for a separate nation for Muslims only started when he realised that Muslims would not be treated as equal citizens by the Hindu majority.”
Khan also claimed that Muslims in Pakistan were treated as equal citizens.
The entire controversy started after veteran Bollywood actor Naseeruddin Shah’s comment on the killing of a policeman in Uttar Pradesh’s Bulandshahr district on December 3. In a video interview with Karwan-e-Mohabbat India, the veteran actor said the death of a cow was being given importance over killing of a policeman in India. He said the "poison has already spread" and it will be now difficult to contain it. "It will be very difficult to capture this djinn back into the bottle again. There is complete impunity for those who take law into their own hands...I feel anxious for my children because tomorrow if a mob surrounds them and asks, 'Are you a Hindu or a Muslim?' they will have no answer. It worries me that I don't see the situation improving anytime soon," Shah said.
Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh and a student, Sumit Kumar, were killed in the mob violence after cow carcasses were found strewn around. The main accused in the case is a local Bajrang Dal leader, Yogesh Raj, who is still absconding.
Several Indian politicians and other personalities panned at Pakistan PM over his remarks. On Tuesday, former Indian batsman Mohammad Kaif lashed out at Khan for his comments.
He took to twitter and wrote: “There were around 20% minorities at the time of Partition in Pakistan, less than 2% remain now. On the other hand, minority population has grown significantly in India since Independence. Pakistan is the last country that should be lecturing any country on how to treat minorities.’’
Earlier, actor Shah told The Sunday Express: “I think Mr Khan should be walking the talk in his own country instead of commenting on issues that don’t concern him. We have been a democracy for 70 years and we know how to look after ourselves.”
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