| Federal minister says clash of Imran’s supporters with him was ‘a reflection of training’

LAHORE   -   Federal Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal Saturday said it was the need of the hour to end extremism, intolerance and hate from politics and society.

Referring to Friday’s ‘unfortunate incident’ in Bhera, he said he thinks about elimination of hatred and extremism from society. He said if seeds of hatred are sown in society then it will take decades to get rid of that menace. The minister was heckled by PTI female supporters at a restaurant on Friday night. Viral videos of the incident circulating online show women and teenagers chanting anti-government slogans and hurling abuses at the minister, loudly calling him chor (thief).

Earlier, in a tweet later, the minister said, "Today, a family — who apparently considered themselves elites and supported PTI — clashed with me. Instead of holding a dialogue with me they started chanting slogans,” he wrote, adding that as a counterattack, other people present at the restaurant also started chanting slogans against the PTI."

Addressing a press conference here, he said that what happened to him was a reflection of the training of PTI supporters imparted by Imran Niazi. "I am directly victim to hate when a youth had opened fire at me few years ago and the bullet is still in my body," he said.

"I always think to eradicate hate from the society as the seed of hate cannot be easily weeded out from the society," he said and added intolerance and hate should be countered right now, otherwise, it would create anarchy. Ahsan Iqbal said that Imran was a player and the nation had expectations of sportsmanship from him, but, unfortunately, Imran's politics based on promoting hate and extremism. If Imran is sincere to his followers, he should not train them for hate or extremism, the minister added.

"I am not new in politics as I have given three decades to it and people of Narowal elected me five times with a majority," he said and thanked people in and outside the country who supported him after the incident. The minister said people from all walks of life had condemned the incident.

The minister said: "I have a right to take legal action against the family but I am not going for any legal action."  He added that by following the teachings of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), he would not take any legal action against the family. He appealed Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) workers to recognise the real face of their leader (Imran) who was using their innocent minds, adding they should also observe whether Imran was sincere to them or not.

"Track record of Niazi shows that he used people," he said and added Imran started using people from Majid Khan, his cousin, who had introduced him in cricket and later on, Niazi ousted his cousin. Nawaz Sharif allotted a plot for the Shaukat Khanum Hospital and Shehbaz Sharif gave approval of the University in Mianwali, Ahsan Iqbal said.

To a question, the minister said Imran's government badly damaged the national economy, adding that the PML-N had to take difficult decisions to put the country on the way to progress and prosperity. He said several things had been improved and economy was now out of danger.

He hoped that soon the country would be out of crisis.