Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf on Monday defended his decision to declare a public holiday on Friday to mark Ishq-e-Rasool Day and said that miscreants had sabotaged the government plans to raise the issue of blasphemy at the international forum.
The prime minister, who has faced scathing criticism for the government’s failure to control rioting, said that a handful of saboteurs in the midst of protesters had instigated ransacking of properties, burning of cinemas and looting of banks.
Such acts of violence had weakened the official case of the government which had planned to convey a strong message to the world after staging peaceful celebrations across the country.
Speaking before distributing cheques to heirs of victims of the Lahore shoe factory fire, Ashraf lashed out at protesters saying that many of the property and business owners who had suffered losses during the protests were die-hard followers of the Holy Prophet (PBUH).
The prime minister assured the audience that President Zardari, in his address to the UN General Assembly, would condemn the profane movie and would urge the international community to pass a convention to ensure that such sacrilegious incidents were not repeated. Zardari’s visit would be successful as he would urge upon Western countries to legislate against production of illicit movies which hurt the sentiments of Muslims.
During the event, PPP legislator Pervez Rafique interrupted proceedings by standing up from his seat and demanding the prime minister publicly condemn the burning of a church in Mardan. The premier condemned the incident and announced that his government would compensate the community for the losses.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 25th, 2012.
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