ISLAMABAD - Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal said on Saturday that some elements were using the sensitive religious issue of Khatm-e-Nabuwwat (PBUH) for politics and called it an attempt to sabotage the next general election.

Taking to the media at the inaugural ceremony of the mega spring festival, the interior minister said that making religion a political slogan and using it for elections was not in the interest of the country. He said that such elements were playing with the fire. He urged all religious and political parties not to play in the hands of the enemy to instigate violence and sabotage the upcoming elections. He said that enemies wanted to present Pakistan as a religiously fanatic state.

The minister said that the government was going to complete the five-year term for the second time in the country’s history and it was their duty to ensure peaceful conduct of elections and transfer of power. “We have to prove to the world that we are a peaceful and democratic nation,” he said.

While referring to the Tahreek-e-Labbaaik Ya Rasool Allah’s recent sit-in in Lahore and last year’s sit-in at Faizabad, he said that sit-ins were damaging not only for the development but also tarnishing Pakistan’s image in the world. 

He also said that Faizabad sit-in could have instigated a country-wide sectarian violence if it had been allowed to continue for a few more days.

He also said that some elements were trying to create rifts between Pakistan and China to harm China Pakistan Economic Corridor and added that such efforts of the enemy would not succeed.

Responding to a question about a recent incident of a scuffle between Chinese nationals and police in Khanewal, the minister said that the Chinese workers and engineers were their guests and they were playing role in Pakistan’s progress and development. At the same time, he said that the Chinese should also respect the Pakistani law. He said that the law would take its course on such incidents and individual incidents should never impact the two countries’ relations.

Replying a question about the recent murder of a journalist in Sialkot allegedly by a local politician, the minister said that the government respected the freedom of the media and condemned violence and any attempt to gag the media in the country. He further said attempts to suppress the voice of any media outlet at this time would put a question mark on the transparency of the upcoming polls.

He also said that all institutions should remain within their constitutional domain.