LAHORE: It is a sad day indeed for this country, that the mere introduction of a private member’s bill, in this case by Sherry Rehman of the PPP, should be made the cause of a countrywide strike. If this bill is indeed so horrific and repugnant, then presumably our legislators will exercise their democratic right and strike it down. But who gave the right to our so-called ‘religious’ parties to cause economic and social disruption to the country by calling for and sponsoring a general strike, particularly at a time when the country is already in a parlous state? Even worse, who gave them the right to sit as both judge and jury and pass the death sentence on certain individuals just because they disagreed with their views?
The power to pronounce a death sentence on any individual in our country lies solely with our courts of law. The mullah’s call is tantamount to incitement to commit murder, and should be treated as a criminal offence. I hope our judicially active chief justice will take due notice and apply the law vigorously and fairly on these self-appointed guardians of our spiritual well-being.
Whatever one may feel about their politics or their opinions, we must all admire people like Salmaan Taseer and Sherry Rehman for having the courage to stand by their convictions and for speaking up for our long-suffering minority communities. The country would be richer for more of them.
Mian Haroun Rashid
Published in The Express Tribune, January 4th, 2011.