KARACHI: If we are barred from using the words ‘Jesus Christ’ in text messages, how will we celebrate Christmas and other religious events, protested a Christian MPA on Monday.
The ruling party’s Salim Khursheed Khokhar tried to lodge his point with a sit-in protest once he was denied permission to move a resolution. “When the American priest desecrated the Holy Quran, we [the Christian community] condemned it and criticised those who used derogatory language against Prophet Muhammad (pbuh),” he said. “What about the fact that we are deprived of our religious rights and face discrimination in Pakistan.” The MPA requested the speaker to take up the resolution because if he didn’t how would Christians celebrate Christmas and other religious events.
On Monday, Pakistan’s mobile operators deferred implementing a ban on nearly 1,700 “obscene” words from text messages, saying they were seeking further clarification from the telecom authority.
In a harsh voice, Speaker Nisar Khuhro asked the MPA to settle down and gave him permission to move the resolution later. Khokhar responded by saying that the issue was an important one, so if the speaker could bend the rules for other resolutions, then why not this one. Khokhar then started to shout and threw the assembly agenda aside as he went to sit in front of the speaker’s chair in protest. “I am being deprived of my religious rights and will not move till the resolution is taken seriously,” he said. “I do not care if anyone votes for it or not.”
Sindh Law Minister Ayaz Soomro and Sindh Local Bodies Minister Agha Siraj Durrani rushed to reassure Khokhar and took him back to his seat. They said that the matter would be resolved. The speaker said that he was not opposing the resolution, but the MPA should have informed him earlier. Khokhar responded and said that he had submitted a copy of the resolution to the speaker and the law minister. Soomro said that he would contact the chairman of the PTA and discuss the issue with him.
The MPA also said that people who faced blasphemy charges were awarded capital punishment but no action was taken against those who used derogatory words for Jesus Christ and attacked the minorities. Sindh Archives Minister Rafique Engineer, Sindh Power Minister Shazia Marri, Deputy Speaker Shehla Raza and Muttahida Qaumi Movement MPA Faisal Sabzwari condemned the PTA decision.
The Hindu community
The Shikarpur murder was brought up in the session when Hindu MPA Pitanbar Sewani said that the police had failed to arrest the main suspect. Sindh Home Minister Manzoor Wassan assured Sewani that the police had arrested relatives of the suspect and would arrest him soon.
PPP MPA Ghalib Domki said that some criminal gangs from Balochistan were causing trouble in Kashmore. “They have attacked in our areas with rockets and have destroyed three to four million acres of crops,” he said. “No police official is cooperating with us.” He added that these people were also involved in causing unrest in Baluchistan.
MQM MPA Khalid Ahmed said that load shedding was causing problems in different areas of the city. Marri said that the Karachi Electric Supply Company was not giving the issue the attention it needed.
PPP MPA Haji Munwar Ali Abbasi said that they should support farmers and increase the price of paddy by Rs400.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 22nd, 2011.