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Ashrafi opposes repeal of blasphemy law

.—INP/File
.—INP/File

LAHORE: Opposing calls for repealing the blasphemy law, Pakistan Ulema Council chairman Hafiz Tahir Ashrafi has suggested that instead those misusing the law should be given the punishment prescribed for its violators.

Referring to IS posters and wall-chalking being reported in suburban areas of the provincial metropolis, he describes it as a reaction to the hoisting of flags of Hizbullah, a pro-Iran militant outfit active in Lebanon, during activities of some parties here.

“The blasphemy law should stay and those proposing its repealing are neither well-wishers of the non-Muslims nor of the country,” Ashrafi told a training session organised for religious scholars by the council here on Wednesday.

Also read: Ulema hold police responsible for couple’s murder

“Our stance is that those misusing the law by levelling false accusations should be handed down death penalty as is prescribed for the violators of the law.”

Pledging not to allow anyone to use 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code for one’s vested interests, he said investigation into the Kot Radha Kishan incident would reveal that the group desirous of spreading anarchy in the country was behind it and not any seminary.

He demanded an end to an environment of fear in the neighbourhood by trying the real accused instead of taking into custody innocent people.

Referring to IS posters, Ashrafi said an outfit that had no existence in the country was being attributed to be having links with seminaries of south Punjab. He questioned that who was hoisting flags of Hizbullah here, a reference to raising of the outfit’s flags in Pakistan Awami Tehreek’s Islamabad sit-in, and cautioned that it would attract reaction from (the rival sect’s) IS.

Clarifying that he was opposed to the IS ideology, he held the international injustices responsible for the creation of such extremist organisations.

Supporting restrictions on such organisations, he said these outfits had no room in Pakistan but the government should also adopt policies based on justice.

The council chairman said a code of ethics for mosques and seminaries had been prepared but was not being implemented. He urged the scholars to help implement the same.

Criticising Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan, he asked what type of system the cricketer-turned-politician wanted to implement. He advised the PTI leader to learn ethics as one could not reach the power corridors through “unethical” tactics.

Published in Dawn, November 13th, 2014