ISLAMABAD: A member of the ruling party on Monday proposed the constitution of an ‘inter-faith committee’ in every single district of the country, but was seemingly skeptical about whether the government would facilitate the relevant legislation for the purpose.
The proposal was floated by leader of the house in the Senate Raja Zafarul Haq during a meeting of the Senate Standing committee on Religious Affairs and Inter-faith Harmony after a report on the Kot Radha Kishan incident was presented.
An enraged mob on November 4 had beaten to death Shama and her spouse Shehzad, and had later burnt their bodies in the furnace of a brick kiln, where the couple worked, after accusing them of desecrating the Holy Quran.
“This issue would not die down by merely awarding punishment to people responsible,” Haq noted while suggesting that statements by government officials and relevant quarters, after any such incident, were nothing but stopgap arrangements.
“An inter-faith committee, comprising members from all religions, should be set up in every single district which should investigate facts and address the issue at the initial stages,” Haq said.
He said the committee should find facts, and in case the allegations are denied [and he never intends to do that], charges on the accused should be dropped.
When asked whether the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) would introduce relevant legislation to set up such committees, Haq said, “this is my proposal which I had given a couple of years ago as well,” adding that there should be a discussion over the proposal, after which there could be a decision.
Haq said “this is no solution that people in such cases, who are awarded punishments secretly go out of the country … or someone kills them before the trial is completed,” Haq said in response to a question.
Talking about the issue, he said “we should also have to see what the majority’s opinion about the minority is. There is a need to launch a camping to highlight the teachings of Islam.”
Haq referred to blasphemy laws and others related to worship places and said, “there is a need to revamp laws made during the time of the British rule, and this job can be done either by the Ministry of Religious Affairs or by the Council of Islamic Ideology -- or by both.”
While talking about the Kot Radha Kishan incident, Haq pointed out that the role of the police is very important, and in this incident had the police taken notice of the issue on November 2, when the issue appeared for the first time, and taken the couple into protective custody, it would have been averted.
Chairman of the committee Senator Hafiz Hamdullah said, “there still exists an ideology asking for a war similar to the war of Protestants against Catholics.”
Hamdullah said Pakistan and Afghanistan were the only countries which suffered -- despite the fact that not one of these countries was involved in 9/11.
“After 9/11, there were talks about the existence of Daish in Pakistan,” he said, urging authorities to take it seriously.
Hamdullah condemned the Kot Radha Kishan incident, and said people attach such behavior with Islam which is wrong as there is no space for extremism in it.
He said “it is the state’s responsibility to give protection to minorities [life, property and religious freedom].”
“All those involved in the killing [Kot Radha Kishan], including the maulvi who made the announcement from the loud speaker of a mosque, should be dealt with according to the law as it is the right of the state to award punishments, and individuals have no right to issue decrees,” he added.
When told that the Supreme Court has taken suo moto notice of the incident, he expressed hope that justice would be served.
Senator Hamza from PML-N said a similar incident had taken place in his home constituency, Gojra, and said “the problem is when an announcement is made in the mosque, then the mob starts taking its own decision.”
“It becomes difficult to award punishment despite arresting people,” he added.
Earlier, the Ministry of Religious Affairs gave a briefing of the incident, but it had nothing except for the chronological order of the event.
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Instead of doing something .... they are sweeping it under the carpet.....disgraceful