Opening the debate: ‘Politicians to discuss misuse of blasphemy law’

Published: March 12, 2011

Interior minister says misuse of law being taken into account.

LONDON: 

Politicians should be able to reach a cross-party accord to end misuse of the blasphemy law, based on proposals made by Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Friday.

The comments by Malik were the clearest sign yet of the government’s attempts to reduce tension over the blasphemy law, which has become a bitterly divisive issue in the country.

Former Punjab Governor Salman Taseer and Minister for Minorities’ Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti, were assassinated this year after they called for amendments to the blasphemy law.

Malik told Reuters in an interview party leaders would meet and try to reach a consensus on the law, as proposed by Fazl.

“Its misuse is being, of course, taken into account and the party leaders are going to sit together as proposed by Maulana Fazlur Rehman … and I hope this matter can be thrashed out, whenever this meeting takes place,” he said.

Fazl has been a vocal defender of the blasphemy law. However, a local newspaper quoted him as saying last week that “if a law is being misused against minorities, we are ready to discuss this.”

Malik declined to answer a question on whether politicians would discuss amendments to the law, or simply introduce measures to prevent its misuse, saying this would be a collective decision and he would abide by the consensus.

He added Fazl’s proposals are likely to gain support, without giving details. “Everybody, I think, will follow him in this connection.”

Asked whether this meant the PPP had resolved its differences with him, Malik said, “he has always favoured and taken the side of the Pakistan Peoples Party … He is a great friend of mine, he is a great friend of the president, he is a great lover of democracy so you can draw the inference that there is nothing wrong.”

The PPP-led government has been accused of appeasing the religious right after Taseer was shot by his own bodyguard in Islamabad. The man who confessed to his killing was celebrated as a hero, and the religious right organised large protests to insist there could be no change to the blasphemy law.

The government responded by promising the laws would stand, while Malik was quoted by the media as saying that if someone insulted Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), he, too, would shoot him.

Asked about that comment, Malik said, “Nobody would like to show disrespect to our Prophet. I said the bullet of law should be utilised for such actions. I was misinterpreted in that particular statement.”

He said the government condemned the assassination of the two men. “Nobody has the right to take anybody’s life.”

Published in The Express Tribune, March 13th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (15)

  • KR
    Mar 12, 2011 - 11:19AM

    All you idiot politicians, next time at least have the courtesy to read and understand the bill before you sign it. And just in case if you cannot read or write please ask someone else to read it for you, someone with legit educational credentials instead of fake or bogus diploma/degree :-)Recommend

  • Aleena
    Mar 12, 2011 - 11:38AM

    Yeah, great decision. Misuse should be stopped. The cases should be heard in high courts rather than local courts who are scared of the fanatics.Recommend

  • muhammad salim
    Mar 12, 2011 - 11:54AM

    This country is for everyone:

    Athiests,Agnostics,christians,hindus,parsis,ahmadis,bahais & muslims.

    We should stop acting as if we’re doing nonmuslims a favor by letting them live here.

    The athiests & agnostics are as much a part of pakistan as the muslims.Recommend

  • muhammad arif
    Mar 12, 2011 - 11:54AM

    mumtaz qadri & his satanic grin both deserved to be removed from this world,ASAP.
    our government should do him a favor,execute him so he can meet his 72 virgins immediatelyRecommend

  • Ron (Indian)
    Mar 12, 2011 - 12:31PM

    Nothing much expected from Pak regarding this as the country is form on the basis of one religion. I am glad to be born in India. We have been taught in our schools that Hindus, muslims, sikhs, christens, buddhists, jains, parsis all are brothers and from same family of humanity. Proud to be an Indian. Recommend

  • Billoo Bhaya
    Mar 12, 2011 - 12:35PM

    @KR:
    Well said. They should read The Satanic Verses as they are all Satans anyway. Recommend

  • U Hussein
    Mar 12, 2011 - 1:03PM

    @Muhammad Salim , Agree that this country is for everyone irrespective of one’s faith. This man made and black Blasphemy law must be repealed. Can pygmies make laws to protect the honour of the Prophet? The Prophet does not need balck laws to protect his image. He is and will remain above all this stupidity. Its insane to say the least
    Repal this law and remember all citizens of the state are equal including all minorities. Pakistan belongs to the Parsi’s, Christians, Hindus, Jain, Athiest, Agnostics, Ahmedi’s, Punjabi’s, Sindhi’s, Balouch, Pathans, Hindko, and everyone else calling themselves “Muslims” and born in the State of Pakistan. Recommend

  • Banker
    Mar 12, 2011 - 1:27PM

    @Ron,

    Very ture india is really great, where hindus demolish 100 yeras old BABRI mosque. where incidnets like Gujrat claims hundreds of Muslim lives, where people like Bal thackery openly abuse muslims and yet you all muslims and hindus are brothers i feel pity for you indians as you are living in a stae of self beleive where you think you are best in every acpects on the other hand, India has the largets slums of the world, people in india die more from property than any part of the world.

    Face teh reality RON and stop day dreamingRecommend

  • Mar 12, 2011 - 1:39PM

    Fix the police, it is the only way. Corrupt police cant enforce any law no matter how good.Recommend

  • Ron(Indian)
    Mar 12, 2011 - 6:21PM

    @Banker: whatever you are talking is nothing in comparison with pakistan, you proved me right again thanks.. we got “Poverty” from british raj… We are working hard on our GDP.. Minor incidents are acceptible and can be controlled when majority of people against the violence. You know our population? more than 1 billion. Some bad apples are bound to be there. There is no systematic plan for reduction of minority population as available in your country. Minority person can not become Priminister or president as country belongs to one religion. India is not that good as compare to developed world like japan, germany… but when you compare with pakistan India is THE BEST place.. Indians are trying hard to make it better. My advice for you is “Save your country..” and for Indians work much more harder… Recommend

  • Singh
    Mar 12, 2011 - 7:03PM

    Banker can you count how many Muslim die in hand of the other Muslim everyday in Pak. Stop eating Gujarat in every comment. That was reaction of Godra. Gujarat happen everyday in Pakistan without any Godra. Recommend

  • Somdet
    Mar 12, 2011 - 7:53PM

    Rehman Malik shuld be careful for his life. He may be next in the list of Shaheeds.Recommend

  • mumtazpro
    Mar 12, 2011 - 8:16PM

    rahman Malik has committed blasphemy according
    to taleban and will be dealt with accordinglyRecommend

  • punter
    Mar 13, 2011 - 11:21AM

    @Banker:
    Admit it that Pakistan is a failed state. When you raise one finger towards us, just see that remaining four fingers are pointing towards you.Recommend

  • Dr Raza Shah
    Mar 13, 2011 - 5:38PM

    @ron.whatever dont compare pak with india.u wud have come across such religious issues in pak very recently n it is talk of the town in india everyday.atleast we dont place quran with geeta n say tat all gods are same just like that duffer shahrukh does.here islam attracted yusuf yuhana to Muhammad Yusuf and on ur side irfan pathan son of imam is dating shiwani his girl frnd.i never saw any hindu saying that Allah n bhagwan is 1 thing.its always a muslim in india taking a u turn in religion.go n support those poor muslims who forget their basics for money.n shame on you that everyday indian forces r killing the kashmiri brothers and sisters brutally yet you say u r educated that in india all r brothers.they are makinf fool of u n its not somthing new for ur leaders to eat their words.from nehru till now its a common practise.im proud that atleast im not an indian nor im narrow minded but basics r basics.c youRecommend

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