CII debate on blasphemy law: Move for change scuttled by hardliners

Published September 20, 2013
Hardliners in the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) joined hands on Thursday to strike down a proposal for awarding death sentence to people making false accusations under the blasphemy law. — File photo
Hardliners in the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) joined hands on Thursday to strike down a proposal for awarding death sentence to people making false accusations under the blasphemy law. — File photo

ISLAMABAD: Hardliners in the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) joined hands on Thursday to strike down a proposal for awarding death sentence to people making false accusations under the blasphemy law.

A meeting of the council on the second day witnessed serious ideological differences between the hardliners and the moderates over the proposal to award the same punishment to a false accuser as to an accused.

After having failed to reach a consensus, CII Chairman Maulana Mohammad Khan Sherani decided to form a two-member committee, comprising retired Justice Mushtaq Ahmed Memon and retired Justice Nazir Akhtar, to look into the matter and submit their findings.

The situation turned ugly when Maulana Tahir Ashrafi criticised the misuse of the blasphemy law. He was of the opinion that because of this misuse the Muslim Ummah was getting a bad name and Ulema in Pakistan were being maligned.

Maulana Ashrafi said those making a false accusation needed to face death penalty because the words attributed to the accused were actually uttered by the accuser.

He even went on to allege that false cases provided certain ‘maulvis’ an opportunity to exploit the situation in different ways.

The statement annoyed some members who went on to call for Maulana Ashrafi’s resignation as member of the CII. The members opposed to amendments to the blasphemy law maintained that they did not want to discourage people from coming forward and lodge complaints against blasphemers. They said there was already a law — section 194 of the PPC — which envisaged punishments for lodging a false FIR.

The CII chairman said an official announcement would be made on Monday after the committee submitted its findings on the matter.

The council rejected a draft bill for establishing homes for the elderly. Maulana Sherani said this idea was against the norms and traditions of society.

The council also rejected the Women Protection Bill, 2006, saying it was contrary to the sprit of Quran and Sharia.

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