Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader L.K. Advani on Friday likened the uprising in Egypt to the situation prevailing in Pakistan.

Inaugurating an auditorium at the Ramakrishna Mission Ashram here, Mr. Advani attributed the problems plaguing Pakistan to its failure to follow Mohammed Ali Jinnah's advice to the people. Violence, he said, could neither be related to religion nor justified, as it had never been and could never be a component of any religion, caste or creed. Salman Taseer, Governor of the Punjab province, was assassinated for his opposition to Pakistan's controversial blasphemy laws, Mr. Advani said, and added that he would not have been killed had he been in India.

Mr. Advani recalled his last interaction with the former president of the Belur Math in Kolkata, the late Swami Ranganathananda, in 2003 on the secular views of Mohammed Ali Jinnah.

“The swamiji wanted to know whether I had read Jinnah's first address to the Constituent Assembly in 1947, particularly… his views on secularism. The swamiji even asked me to send him a copy of the speech. Later, I obtained from the Parliament Library a copy of Jinnah's speech and sent it to the swamiji. The portion the swamiji had referred to is: ‘You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan.' But when I quoted the same during my visit to Pakistan, it resulted in a controversy.”

Issues to be addressed

Mr. Advani, who acknowledged that India was becoming a global economic power “to some extent,” wanted neither the government nor the people to believe in illusions. India, he said, could become a real power only if the issues of poverty, access to quality education, and housing, drinking water, employment and healthcare in rural areas were effectively addressed.

Earlier, addressing a gathering, Mr. Advani, who paid homage to Mahatma Gandhi at the Veera Soudha on Congress Road, the venue of the Congress session held in Belgaum and presided over by Gandhiji in 1924, ridiculed the change that had occurred in the Congress. “Then, the Indian National Congress had a new president to preside over the party session every year. Today's the Congress has only one president for long and belonging to one family.”