Secular politicians jump on blasphemy bandwagon

Published: January 31, 2011

At the Tehrik-i-Namoos Risalat rally held on The Mall yesterday, Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid-i-Azam’s Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi shares a private moment with Maulana Ghafoor Haideri. PHOTO: EXPRESS/WASEEM NIAZ

LAHORE: The Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid-i-Azam will quit the National Assembly if it amends the blasphemy laws, said party leader Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi at a Tehrik-i-Namoos-i-Risalat rally here on Sunday.

“We curse the assembly that would dare to amend the anti-blasphemy laws,” Elahi said. “Our party would be the first to quit such an assembly.”

The former chief minister added that he and his party colleagues were deeply committed to the cause. “Our children and our worldly belongings are of no consequence in the defence of Namoos-i-Risalat,” he said.

Elahi was one of several political leaders from non-religious parties to attend the Tehrik-i-Namoos-i-Risalat rally. Analysts say that these politicians are trying to gain religious sympathies and to cash in on anti-government feeling following the assassination of Governor Salmaan Taseer.

Apart from pressing their own credentials in protecting the sanctity of the Holy Prophet (pbuh), the speakers railed against Raymond Davis, the American consulate employee currently in police custody for the killing of two Pakistanis. They told the government that he must be treated “according to the law” and not be handed over to the United States.

“The American gunned down two innocents but the government is trying to exonerate him,” said Maulana Fazlur Rehman, president of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-F (JUI-F). “This matter must be left to the courts to decide. If there is an executive intervention to stop the courts from exercising their jurisdiction, no one will respect the courts.”

He said his party would not let “American agents” continue their rule in Pakistan. He said that there would be another rally in Peshawar on the same issue on February 20.

Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-S chief Maulana Samiul Haq, who was introduced before his speech as a backer of the Taliban, told the rally that their primary demand of the government should not be that it pledge to leave the blasphemy laws alone, but that it pledge to remove all Americans and their supporters from the country. He urged the protesters to continue their “independence movement”, otherwise the killing of Pakistanis in drone attacks and firing incidents by foreigners would continue.

Syed Munawar Hasan, ameer of Jamaat-i-Islami, said that the law should “take its natural course” and penalise the accused American. He said some Americans had previously been arrested in the city with weapons but were let off.

Ijazul Haq, leader of the PML-Zia, said the blasphemy laws were not made by a dictator, his father Gen Ziaul Haq, but were “the laws of Allah” and as such could not be amended. He said the religious parties should give the government a deadline by which it would pledge not to amend the laws in any way, otherwise they should plan a long march towards Islamabad.

JUI-F leader Hafiz Hussain Ahmed referred to Davis as an employee of Blackwater, the American mercenaries. “During interrogation he confessed that he was on a special mission and was operating on instructions. The government should make public his mission and instructions and why he riddled our brothers with bullets.”

He claimed that the US government was offering visas in return for Davis’ release. He said if the government bowed to American demands and let him off, they would besiege the US embassy and the Presidency in Islamabad.

Also invited to the rally were Muhammad Waseem and Imran, brothers of Faheem and Faizan Haider, the two men that Davis killed. Repeated announcements were made from the stage to welcome them and express solidarity with them.

“The blood of the martyrs Faheem and Faizan will not go to waste. We will contest their case before the court. The government must stop its conspiracy to portray this as a case of self-defence, otherwise neither the city government nor the provincial government will be able to continue,” said an organiser in an announcement from the stage.

PML-Nawaz MNA Khawaja Saad Rafiq, representing his party chief, said the PML-N would not accept any foreign pressure for the release of Davis. He said “the American diplomat” had killed two people and one of his colleagues had crushed another under his vehicle, and they would be dealt with according to the law. He said US Ambassador Cameron Munter had telephoned Nawaz Sharif to ask for help to secure Davis’ release, but Sharif had refused. He also led the crowd in shouting the slogan: “Amrika ka jo yaar hay, ghaddar hay ghaddar hay” [Whoever is America’s friend is a traitor].

Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan general secretary Qari Zawar Bahadur said that the government should close the US embassy in Islamabad in protest at the incident. He said all “Blackwater operatives” must be forced out of Pakistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 31st,  2011.

Reader Comments (30)

  • Asfandyar
    Jan 31, 2011 - 10:56AM

    So, a murderer (Qadri) and two armed criminals (Faheem and Faizan) have now become heros & martyrs?

    The American operative should be tried according to the law and the truth but the fact that the bikers were killed by an American definitely does not make them heroes.

    Meanwhile, the vultures are circling – good going PML-Q, you have probably notched up a few more votes but you have lost your secular tag. Recommend

  • Jan 31, 2011 - 11:43AM

    Who said PML-q is a secular party:O

    PML is the founder party of Pakistan… Recommend

  • No BS
    Jan 31, 2011 - 12:11PM

    Shameful, Nawaz Sharif and Chaudhry’s have proved that they are closet fundos. Surprised that Imran Khan aka Taliban Khan and his party did not take part!!!Recommend

  • Usman
    Jan 31, 2011 - 12:15PM

    Pakistan ka Allah Hafiz.Recommend

  • BinYamin
    Jan 31, 2011 - 1:29PM

    These are just hollow slogans unless proved by their actions. I am ashamed to say that Maulana Maudodi’s statement that “99.99% Muslims of this time are only Muslims by their names not deeds” is still true. Actions of rest of the lot of pious Holy cows are no different from others. Everyone knows actions/deeds of politicians. These all so-called champs of religion and politics are all donation swindlers, leaders of qabza groups, support smugglers, kidnappers, robbers, mobsters, gangsters etc. Big time crime cannot flourish without the support of either ones. Worst of the worst is doing something in the name of religion whereas religion has not permitted any such act. They are indeed biggest blasphemers of all who kill or incite to kill in the name of Namoos-e-Risalat whereas in their ordinary life they do not follow teachings of Prophet Muhmmad(pbuh).Recommend

  • Bilal
    Jan 31, 2011 - 1:47PM

    This is emblematic of a systemic problem that has plagued politics in Pakistan; i.e. Pakistani Politicians using schismatic religious issues to generate vote revenue. If any good has been derived from this crisis, it is that, we are beginning to see how truly odious, infernal and addicted to public affectations our politicians are.

    If we were to assume that there was nothing intrinsically wrong with these laws then how come these politicians ignore the objective fact that this particular law has been used by accusers to foist spurious accusations onto innocent people, accusations that many times one may add that are based on personal enmity and personal ill will.

    These ‘cupboard love’ politicians are oblivious to the immense suffering that this law has caused to hundreds of people and that at the very least their job is to deter people from abusing this particular piece of law.

    So they desist from amending the law, they refrain abrogating the law and they refuse to instructing people not to misuse or pervert the law, so what do they wish?

    The answer is nothing, they are not looking for solutions, they are looking for problems, for it is only when there is a state of chaos can these sociopaths ply the sentiments of the people and offer them ‘dangerously illusive’ solutions; and as the old psychosomatic adage goes, ‘When the mind is dispersed disease seizes its fruitful chance.’

    This problem will continue to be insoluble until we hygienize our politics from the inside out and start addressing ‘real national problems’ that greatly threaten the stability and strength of our state. Recommend

  • Khadim Hussain
    Jan 31, 2011 - 2:33PM

    PML Q and N are both fundamentalist parties and close to the talibans. It will be wrong to assume that they will ever side with the liberal forces.I strongly believe that Pakistan with this sort of extrmisim cannot survive longRecommend

  • Jan 31, 2011 - 2:34PM

    Opportunists! * disgusted*Recommend

  • Doa
    Jan 31, 2011 - 3:02PM

    Yet another blow to Pakistan.Recommend

  • Khadim Hussain
    Jan 31, 2011 - 3:31PM

    pervaiz ilahi and nawaz sharif are both heirs to the legacy of zia ul haq so no wonder if both are supporters of the rallyRecommend

  • syed maududi
    Jan 31, 2011 - 4:49PM

    sir what has this to do with muslims. all the perpetrators were liberals. @Humanity: Recommend

  • Asfandyar
    Jan 31, 2011 - 4:49PM

    Well said Bilal, I wholeheartedly agree with your comments.Recommend

  • riaz
    Jan 31, 2011 - 5:23PM

    no political party wants to lose its vote bank. although islam was well in effect for last 1400 years Recommend

  • Canuckistani
    Jan 31, 2011 - 7:19PM

    The tone of this article along with the comments here leave no room for doubt that we’re in liberal fantasy land here. First is the fantasy that we have secular parties in Pakistan….we don’t! Even the most liberal parties have Islam specifically mentioned in their manifestos as a priority, i.e. ANP, PPP, and even MQM. When will you people stop the ridiculous dreams and get a little bit more real?! We live in a country that was established in the name and on the basis of Islam, thus, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan…what is it that you people don’t get about that?!!Recommend

  • Jan 31, 2011 - 8:43PM

    I’d agree to the standpoint that there is no mainstream political party in Pakistan having a core liberal leaning. For political gains, all the major parties have succumbed to popular demands of religious right.

    It would be unfair to term PML(Q) a secular party which is an opportunist off shoot drawing its roots from dictatorial regimes and still desperately hunts for its philosophy & identity.Recommend

  • M M Malik
    Jan 31, 2011 - 8:46PM

    In matters of religion, politics has no role. Using religion in petty politics is blasphemy.Recommend

  • Talha
    Jan 31, 2011 - 9:45PM

    @ Canuckistani

    We live in a country that was established in the name and on the basis of Islam, thus, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan…what is it that you people don’t get about that?!!
    .
    A simple Google search would have helped you in realising that what you have written is wrong.

    Pakistan was made as a nation for Muslims, not on the basis of Islam.

    Jinnah veteod many constituition’s whereby Islam was to be deemed its central authority. The nation was born as the ‘Dominion of Pakistan’. It only got a state religion through the 1973 constituition, though the prefix of Islamic Republic was inserted in 1957, it was removed in 1963.

    Amazing how you are unaware of your own history.

    No wonder we are in such a mess.Recommend

  • Adnan
    Jan 31, 2011 - 11:38PM

    Rana seems a new born in this world. PML-Q was NEVER a secular party.Recommend

  • Adnan
    Jan 31, 2011 - 11:39PM

    @Canuckistani:

    I wish some liberals could understand your voiceRecommend

  • M.M khan
    Feb 1, 2011 - 1:10AM

    At present there is no secular political party in Pakistan and there will never be in near or distant future. How can you expect to establish a SECULAR party in a country where the vast majority condones the murder of the Governor, stoning to death for adulterers, etc etc ……Recommend

  • NotASyedJustASimpleMuslim
    Feb 1, 2011 - 5:10AM

    @syed maududi: “sir what has this to do with muslims. all the perpetrators were liberals. ”
    Dear Mr. Syed, O keeper of our glorious faith, your comment does not make any sense. Are you saying that:
    1. Muslims and liberals are mutually exclusive? Pray tell what is your definition of a liberal?
    2. Since these acts were committed by liberals ( which is your argument and makes no sense. Don’t know how you arrived at this conclusion) muslims and muslim law should not be concerned with them

    Respected Mr.Syed, please tell me what is your position on throwing acid on women, raping eunuchs and forcing women to marry against their will. Maybe my Islam is different from yours, I am not a Syed after all, but my Prophet ( and unlike you i am not related by blood to him, only by respect and love in my heart) told me that a woman has more rights in Islam, that she can marry of her own will, that hurting a woman is one of the lowest things to do morally.
    Please Mr.Syed, guide me because your comment has left me confused. Am i to follow in your footsteps and feel callous towards these things because they were committed (allegedly) by ‘liberals’ (don’t even know what that means).Recommend

  • Feb 1, 2011 - 5:52AM

    such blasphemy taking place openly with the world to see and the pakistani public being hoodwinked into think these munafiqs are defending islam – shameRecommend

  • Aftab Kenneth Wilson
    Feb 1, 2011 - 9:02AM

    Religious issues are always considered as Blank Cheaques in our country which are always bounced back when it goes to get cashed at the counter of polling stations. These are the people who show left and hit with the right. One English news paper has reported that USA visas and visits of these mindsets will now be denied due to the dubious character of these politicians, journalists, anchor persons and other journalists. Recommend

  • Canuckistani
    Feb 1, 2011 - 11:20AM

    @Talha:

    Talha…you are exactly what I was referring to in my response to Adnan. The two nation theory meant that one of them was Muslim…therefore, Pakistan. If secularism is what you wanted, you could have stayed in India. If you read Jinnah’s speech at the inauguration of the state bank of Pakistan, you will have no doubt how wrong you are. Secondly, we call ourselves Muslims; the follows of the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh)…not the followers of Jinnah. So despite your historical inaccuracy and the fact that Jinnah and Iqbal did create an Islamic country…but that does not change the fact that it is illogical to be bound so definitely to the ideology of one man who none of us even believes is a prophet rather than the ideology of the one (pbuh) who is indeed a Prophet. Even if you go by the standards of democracy, we will still end up with an Islamic Republic. So I don’t understand why you think you have some points to win…you don’t. Secularism is a fantasy and you won’t get it here. Recommend

  • canzeon
    Feb 1, 2011 - 1:19PM

    I feel like borrowing from Shakespeare for the occasion:
    Devil can cite scriptures for his purpose'. Macbeth
    There is something rotten in thje state of Denmark.’ Hamlet
    Obviously, the only question for the handful of liberals is,` to be or not be’. Recommend

  • Feb 2, 2011 - 10:48AM

    Why blame the PML(Q) only, which is an opportunist party, with one agenda to be in power at any cost. I am surprised at the hypocracy. When Neelofer made a call to offer a prayer for late Salman Taseer in the Senate, everybody including the PPP, MQM, ANP also refused to offer Fateha for the late governor. Chairman Senate refused to allow the offering of Fateha. This is a fact, which nobody can deny. But nobody dares to talk about role of MQM which never tires of being a moderate secular party. Recommend

  • Hamaad
    Feb 2, 2011 - 2:19PM

    The Blasphemy Laws are Blasphemous!

    No where in the Qura or in the life of the Prophet was it a sin punishable by death to defame the Prophet or Islam. On the contrary the Prophet’s life has many instances where he forgave and prayed for those who showed intolerance and disregard towards him. He never killed them, nor had any of them killed. By killing someone based on the false pretext of Islam, you are conducting murder, and trying to play God.

    Quran does not prescribe the punishments or does not outlaw blasphemy in the way our extremist blasphemy laws do. These blasphemy laws have nothing to do with Islam. In fact, are against everything Islam stands for.Recommend

  • habib chaudhry
    Feb 3, 2011 - 12:20PM

    This Lota company are sinking fast ,No one can save them,regardless in which wagan they
    jump. Recommend

  • Jeddy
    Feb 3, 2011 - 2:15PM

    Religion is the last refuge of discredited politicianRecommend

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