Khatam-e-Naboowat laws: PUC challenges Sajid Mir to live debate in English

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Ulema announce countrywide violent protests from Friday

LAHORE: Following the controversy surrounding an alleged amendment to the Elections Act 2017 which sparked protests, Pakistan Ulema Council (PUC), an umbrella of 28 religio-political parties, has thrown a live debate challenge to Senator Sajid Mir, chief of Jamiat Ahle Hadith Pakistan for a live debate in English.

Sajid Mir sparked vigorous argument among ulema in the wake of his statement that the ulema did not understand the use of English language in the Elections Act 2017, which ended up affecting a Khatam-e-Naboowat (finality of prophethood) declaration which public office holders are required to make.

Pakistan Ulema Council (PUC) Chairman Allama Tahir Ashrafi said that Senator Sajid Mir had disgraced ulema by saying that they do not understand the English language used in the Election Act 2017. “Sajid Mir is a slave of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his party PML-N,” he alleged.

Addressing a press conference along with ulema of other religious parties at the Lahore Press Club on Wednesday, he said: “We accept your challenge of live debate on Khatam-e-Naboowat laws anytime and anywhere you like. You, Sajid Mir, are invited to hold a debate with us at Lahore Press Club, Islamabad Press Club, Karachi Press Club or any TV channel. We ulemas will not allow changes to Khatam-e-Naboowat laws.”

Tahir Ashrafi named Tehreek-e-Tahufz-e-Harmeen Pakistan Chairman Zubair Zaheer to hold a debate with Sajid Mir. Tahir Ashrafi and Hafiz Zubair said that they would leave politics for good if they could not win debate on the Khatam-e-Naboowat laws against Sajid Mir.

He said that the ulema of 28 religious parties agreed in the meeting that they would jointly hold countrywide protests from Friday (October 6). He alleged that the government was preparing to change the blasphemy law through Election Act 2017 and Sajid Mir was a part of that conspiracy to appease Qadaniat. He said that Sajid Mir should tender an apology to the whole nation and especially ulema for his comments. “Sajid Mir should teach Arabic, the language of Holy prophet (PBUH) to the rulers and should never be proud of his English”, he said. Ashrafi and other ulema demanded an end to changes in Election Act 2017 and punishment to those who brought this amendment. “We will resort to violence and would not guarantee law and order if our demands are not met,” he threatened.

It is pertinent to mention here that that the wording of Form-A of Election Act 2017, which is submitted at the time of the election by candidates, had been changed and turned into a declaration form instead of an affidavit, in which candidates are put under oath.

In the new Form-A, the words “I solemnly swear” have been replaced with “I believe” in a clause relating to a candidate’s belief in the finality of the prophethood of Prophet Muhammad and it had not been made applicable to non-Muslim candidates.

Unlike Law Minister Zahid Hamid who had denied the change in the Election Act 2017 and vociferously defended it, National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq on Wednesday accepted that a “clerical error” had been made in the act.