Blasphemy laws won’t be amended, govt tells NA

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ISLAMABAD – Highlighting the government’s policy statement on blasphemy law, Minister for Religious Affairs Khursheed Shah on Wednesday told the National Assembly that the government had no intention to amend or repeal blasphemy law.
The minister also made it clear that the bill by Sherry Rehman seeking amendment in the blasphemy law was her private member bill and the government would not support any such amendment. “It is the government’s prime duty to ensure Tahafuz-e-Namoos-e-Rasalat. I also assure the minorities of the country that law will not be used to target minorities,” he added.
Rejecting Shah’s statement, JUI’s Ataur Rehman asked the prime minister to give the House an assurance regarding the issue. “The Punjab governor calls it a black law, a PPP member proposes amendments to it while President Zardari forms a committee under the chair of the Minister for Minority Affairs to propose amendments in the existing law. The government should explain its position on it,” Reman said.
In response, Petroleum Minister Naveed Qamar said the minister’s statement was self explanatory and there was no further reason to explain the government’s position. Later, Interior Minister Rehman Malik briefed the House about Shahzain Bugti’s arrest. He said a joint interrogation team was working on it while police had all type of evidence against him.
He said the House could form a parliamentary committee to probe the matter. Talking about the law and order in Balochistan, he said the security on the borders had been tightened after which incidents of target killing had also reduced. He said that he would bring a bill to disarm the entire country.
“I am hopeful that the House will support the bill,” Malik added. On protocols, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said he was personally against protocols. “But I also got such security protocol during my visit to the US and even China.” Earlier, Leader of the Opposition Nisar Ali Khan reiterated that the government should stop unchecked movement of diplomats with prior permission from the Foreign Ministry.
The House also passed two separate bills – The Pakistan Trade Control of Wild Fauna and Flora Bill, 2010 and The Pakistan Engineering Council Amendment Bill 2010.