ISLAMABAD: Mainstream religious parties belonging to all schools of thought on Saturday rejected the women protection bill recently passed by the Punjab assembly and termed the hanging of former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer’s assassin a judicial murder.

The announcement was made at the official residence of Maulana Fazlur Rehman in the Ministers Colony here. The meeting was attended by Jamaat-i-Islami emir Sirajul Haq, Awais Noorani, son of late Shah Ahmed Noorani and the leader of Jamiat Ulema Pakistan (JUP-N), Dr Sahibzada Abul Khair Mohammad Zubair (JUP-N), Allama Arif Wahidi of Islami Tehreek of Allama Sajid Naqvi and Allama Abdul Aziz Hanif of Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadis led by Senator Prof Sajid Mir.

Announcing the decisions of the meeting, Maulana Fazlur Rehman said the participants rejected the ‘judicial murder’ of Mumtaz Qadri and called him a martyr.

Clerics from various schools of thought also describe Mumtaz Qadri’s hanging as ‘judicial murder’

“The mainstream religious parties will meet in Mansoora, Lahore, on March 15 to discuss the next course of action against the conspiracies being hatched by the government,” the JUI-F chief said. He added that there were chances of a nationwide agitation against the ill-intended moves of the government – similar to the one organised by religious groups in 1977.

“We understand that the hanging of Mumtaz Qadri was based on a bad intent and it could be part of a conspiracy to abolish the blasphemy laws in Pakistan. But we will never tolerate this,” he said, adding: “All such attempts by previous governments had failed and this will also happen now.”

The JUI chief said the meeting also noted with concerns that the women protection bill had been promulgated by Punjab only to destroy and distort the family system in the country.

“We all have agreed that domestic violence and ill-treatment of women should end and we will welcome laws in this regard. But the clauses in this bill will eventually lead to the break-up of society,” he added. “This is not right in an Islamic country and many clauses in the Bill are contrary to Quran and Sunnah.”

He said the representatives of all the religious groups had decided to resist these moves as they termed it “conspiracies to make Pakistan a secular country.” Allama Arif Wahidi said they considered Qadri’s execution and passing of the women protection bill as devious moves by the ruling party as both the actions were planned and carried out secretly.

The religious leaders also criticised Pemra and the government over the blackout of all the news related to Mumtaz Qadri by the media.

When asked why he was speaking against the government when his party, the JUI-F, was a coalition partner, Maulana Fazal said he believed in a true democracy.

“This is the true spirit of democracy. We are with the government but we have our principles and will not be part of any illegal or un-Islamic act,” he said.

About the allegations of former Karachi nazim Mustafa Kamal against the MQM chief, Maulana Fazal said, “As far as anybody’s connections with RAW etc., are concerned, it is not our responsibility to check or correct it. Such allegations are not new regarding MQM but the agencies should be asked why they have failed to cap the alleged RAW links.”

Published in Dawn, March 6th, 2016