Forced conversions are not part of Islam: Imran

Wednesday 07th August 2019 06:43 EDT

Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan decried the practice of forced conversions as 'un-Islamic', claiming that those who do so are unaware of the history of Islam. Addressing an event on the occasion of National Minority Day, Khan invoked Prophet Mohammed and said he gave religious freedom to minorities and protected their places of worship "because the Quran orders that there be no compulsion in religion. How can we then take it into our own hands to forcefully convert someone to Islam - either by marrying (non-Muslim) women or on gunpoint or to (by threatening to) kill someone because of their religion?" he was quoted as saying.

He added, "All these things are un-Islamic. If God had not given his messengers the power to impose their beliefs on someone, who are we (to do so)?" He also acknowledged, “Why will they fight for Pakistan, when the state itself does not ask for its welfare? Similarly, there are untouchables. When we will give them full protection, when we will make them equal citizens?”

Khan's comments came after Pakistan's independent human rights watchdog in April had raised concerns over the increasing incidents discrimination against minorities that form 1.6% of the population, including abductions and forced conversions and marriages of Hindu and Christian girls to Muslim men every year. Recently, Pakistan faced backlash after two minor girls Reena (15) and Raveena (13) were kidnapped, forcibly converted to Islam and married to Muslim men.

Issue of Balochistan

On Balochistan, he stated, "70% of people in Balochistan are under the yoke - these are the impoverished conditions. He also said that his government is committed to operationalising the Kartarpur corridor on the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.

Seeks cut in roti, naan prices

The cash-strapped government rolled back the gas tariff hike for roadside tandoors to bring down the prices of roti and naan in Pakistan. The move seems to be an attempt to pacify disgruntled masses, who have been blaming the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government for hike in prices of cooking gas, fuel, electricity and food items among other things. At present, a piece of ‘naan’ costs Rs12 to 15 and ‘roti’ Rs 10 to 12 in different parts of Pakistan. Prior to increase in gas tariff and rates of wheat flour on June 30, the price of ‘naan’ ranged between Rs 8 and 10 and ‘roti’ Rs 7 and 8.

“Khan has taken strict notice of the increase in the price of bread and ordered that previous prices of ‘naan’ and ‘roti’ be restored. He has directed the economic coordination committee (ECC) to take measures in this regard,” said Firdous Ashiq Awan, Khan’s special assistant on information. Soon after Khan’s directive, the ECC approved measures to bring down naan/roti prices by revising gas prices for roti tandoors. The ECC earmarked Rs 1.51 billion to subsidise such gas connections.

Pakistan is facing a serious economic crisis with short supplies of foreign currency reserves and stagnating growth. The IMF this month approved a $6 billion loan over a period of three years for Pakistan to allow the country to return to sustainable growth and improve the living standards of the people.

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