Discussion on blasphemy stifled in Punjab Assembly

Source: Express Tribune:

Women chant slogans in favour of late Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer’s assassin, Mumtaz Qadri during a Sunni Tehrik rally in Islamabad on January 4. PHOTO: ZAFAR ASLAM/EXPRESS

LAHORE: Days after religious groups protested in Lahore against the death sentence awarded to former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer’s murder Mumtaz Qadri, an MPA has demanded the chief justice of Pakistan to act against clerics supporting the self-confessed assassin.

Speaking in the Punjab Assembly on Thursday, Malik Pervaiz Rafique of the Pakistan Peoples Party had said that it was regrettable that Qadri was begin provided luxurious facilities in jail while the life of Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman on death row for blasphemy, is in danger in the barracks where she’s being kept.

Taseer, who spoke out in support of Aasia, was shot dead by Qadri who was part of the governor’s security detail.

Rafique had expressed his reservations over the insecurity of Christians in Punjab, who number at approximately eight million. “The Punjab government must provide security to them and their places of worship,” he said.

But, on Friday, treasury members refused to allow discussion on the topic, asking opposition members to refrain from commenting on it until the court gives out its final verdict.

The suggestion was first made by Muhammad Ilyas Chinioti, the son of Tehreek-i-Khatm-i-Nabuwat’s leader Maulana Manzoor Chinioti, who is the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s MPA from Jhang.

When minority members protested over Chiniot’s advice, Speaker Rana Mohammad Iqbal disallowed them a point of order and asked Punjab Minister for Planning and Development Chaudhry Abdul Ghafoor to speak over to issue.

Reiterating Chinioti’s view, Ghafoor issued a thinly-veiled warning:

“Diehard followers of Muhammad (pbuh) might not wait for court orders and decide the fate of blasphemers themselves. So my advice to blasphemers is to refrain from committing blasphemy.”

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