ISLAMABAD: MNA Shahjehan Mangrio on Monday suggested that retired Capt Mohammad Safdar should become the imam (prayer leader) of the Parliament House mosque.

“You have a lot of information on Islam and I am impressed with your knowledge,” Ms Mangrio of the National People’s Party said during the meeting of the NA Standing Committee on Information Technology.

The remarks came after a long and emotional speech by Capt Safdar on the issue of blasphemy and the irresponsible use of social media.

Chairing the meeting of the committee, Capt Safdar, who is the son-in-law of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, said he had submitted a resolution to parliament about blasphemous material on social media.

Emotional speech on blasphemous content on social media by Capt Safdar impresses MNA Shahjehan Mangrio

He said there was an organised mafia behind the circulation of the blasphemous material and suggested that strict action should be taken against the mafia. He said it was the prime responsibility of parliamentarians to look into the issue.

“God will ask us about it on the Day of Judgment. I believe that the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) is quite capable of tackling the issue. I believe that all intelligence agencies and people of Pakistan are with us on the issue.”

He said some people criticised a judge who took notice of the blasphemous material and complained that the judge had converted his courtroom into a mosque.

“Such people do not know that in the past courts were held in mosques and all important decisions were taken there. The PTA should know from where the funding for the blasphemous campaign is coming. It is our responsibility to raise our voice because it is a jihad and we will continue it,” he said.

Supporting the arguments of Capt Safdar, Farhana Qamar of the PML-N broke into tears.

Ms Mangrio said there must be some elements in the country behind the malicious campaign. She said because of his knowledge of Islam, Capt Safdar should be the imam of the Parliament House mosque.

Capt Safdar replied that he would feel proud of becoming the imam of the mosque and asked Ms Mangrio to propose his name for the post.

He said it should be clear that the social media, including YouTube and Facebook, would not be shut down but the blasphemous material would have to be removed.

MQM legislator Syed Ali Raza Abidi said his party would support any decision or step taken by the committee on the issue.

State Minister for Information Technology Anusha Rahman complained that whenever the ministry tried to make a framework about social media, courts became a hurdle.

“The policy of the government is very clear over the issue as we convinced Google and then allowed YouTube in Pakistan. We have not diverted from our stance and will never do it,” she said.

“It is unfortunate that whenever we try to make a law, NGOs approach courts terming it an issue of the right to freedom of expression. However, we will not tolerate any content against the law of Pakistan,” she said.

The committee suggested consultation with the Council of Islamic Ideology. It said a public awareness campaign should be launched through SMS by all mobile phone service providers and the print and electronic media. It was also suggested that the regulatory mechanism of NGOs should be strengthened.

The committee said the issue should also be taken up with the ambassadors of other Muslims countries to ensure joint diplomatic efforts. Besides, the issue should also be taken up at the platforms of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the relevant agencies of the United Nations.

Published in Dawn, April 11th, 2017



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