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Pakistan: Ruling party decides not to ‘touch’ blasphemy law


A source said proposals to amend the blasphemy law were raised during the meeting, however, former minister for religious affairs Hamid Saeed Kazmi made a speech over the issue and proposed that no such move should be carried out due to sensitive nature of the issue.

Ahmadiyya Times | News Watch | Int’l Desk
Source/Credit: Pakistan Today
By  Tayyab Hussain | September 4, 2012

ISLAMABAD – The parliamentary party of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) on Tuesday out rightly rejected any amendments to the blasphemy laws in the wake of the Rimsha Masih case and decided unanimously that any move to amend the law might trigger a new controversy.

The PPP Parliamentary Party met at Parliament House on Tuesday with Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf in the chair.

A source said proposals to amend the blasphemy law were raised during the meeting, however, former minister for religious affairs Hamid Saeed Kazmi made a speech over the issue and proposed that no such move should be carried out due to sensitive nature of the issue.

“Kazmi advised the party to mull amendments to the procedure of law as there were flaws in its implementation but there was no gap in the law,” the source added.

The source said some lawmakers had raised proposals to amend the blasphemy laws to improve the law and make it friendly to the minorities and other communities living across the country. However, the source said the parliamentary party unanimously rejected any such move.

“Most of the party lawmakers agreed to Kazmi’s proposal and decided it was not the right time to touch the blasphemy law, as general election was nearing and the party should not face any new controversy that might trigger a religious conflict,” the source added.

The source said Law Minister Farooq Naik gave a detailed briefing to the meeting over the issue of writing a letter to Swiss authorities under the Supreme Court’s verdict on National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) and said the government was implementing the constitution vis-à-vis the letter issue.

“The law minister gave a detailed briefing to the party’s lawmakers and said the court was pressing the government contrary to constitutional provisions. He also said that former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani had been convicted in violation of the constitution,” the source said.

Asked whether the law minister dropped any hint whether or not the government would write the letter, the source said that the law minister did speak his mind over the issue, adding that the final decision would be taken by President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf. The source said the meeting also approved a four percent increase in minority seats for national and provincial assemblies. He said the grievances of the minorities would be redressed amicably. The demand of increase in seats for minorities had recently been made by PML-Q MNA and Minister of State for Interfaith Harmony Akram Masih Gill.

The source said it was also decided during the meeting that legislation would also be enacted for the recovery of all pending electricity bills and FIA and NAB would be authorized to take action against defaulters.

The meeting discussed the local government elections and the caretaker setup as well. Law Minister Farooq Naik briefed the meeting on legal matters regarding the issues.

The source added that it was decided that a meeting of the parliamentary party of allies will be held on Wednesday to expedite progress on pending issues.

During the meeting, Raja Pervez Ashraf said the credit for the continuity of the present democratic dispensation goes to the wisdom, sagacity and farsightedness of the president.

“The parliament is completing its constitutional term which is a singular achievement in the face of multifarious challenges to democracy and despite the fact that Pakistan People’s Party did not even have a simple majority,” he added.

Ashraf said only democracy could solve the problems faced by the country. The prime minister said the PPP had offered great sacrifices for upholding the cause of democracy and protect the rights of the people.

He said no one should entertain any doubts about the success of democratic system in the country.

The prime minister invited all parliamentarians to submit suggestions regarding improvement in governance as well as development of the country.

Read original post here: Pakistan: Ruling party decides not to ‘touch’ blasphemy law

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