Govt not sending blasphemy reference to CII


ISLAMABAD – The government is reluctant to send a formal reference to the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) to have the top religious body’s opinion on the blasphemy law in the light of Islamic injunctions, as seeking an opinion would make it mandatory for the government to legislate in accordance with the recommendations.
A source in the CII told Pakistan Today that the CII had the mandate to examine any of the prevailing laws in the country to determine whether they were in conformity with Islamic injunctions under the suo motu powers but its recommendations would not be binding on the government if the council took up any matter on its own initiative.
However, the source said if the government referred any issue to the CII through a formal reference, it would have to legislate on the particular issue in the light of the council’s recommendations. The assassination of former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer has generated a controversy over the application of the blasphemy law, but the government has put the matter on the backburner instead of resolving it once and for all by seeking the CII’s opinion.
A CII member, asking not to be named, told Pakistan Today that the council was expecting that the government would consult it through a reference before abolishing, amending or making the blasphemy law ineffective in the country amidst calls for a rationale and unanimous approach towards this issue.
He said the council had recently conveyed its unanimous opinion to the government, saying it must apprise whatsoever concerns it had about the law, as under the Islamic provisions of the constitution, it was the sole prerogative of the CII to review any of the prevalent laws on the touchstones of Islamic injunctions.
“The council will review the provisions of the blasphemy law in the light of Islamic injunctions and then forward its recommendations to the government for legislation,” he said. The CII member said if the government did not send a reference to the council to seek its opinion on the issue, it would discuss in detail the spirit of the law and possibility of its misuse under the suo motu powers vested in the council and give a detailed opinion on it in near future.
He said the only possible reason behind the government’s reluctance in referring the case to the council was that in that situation the CII’s recommendations would become binding on it.