TAXILA: Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Sardar Mohammad Yousaf has said that blasphemy by anyone cannot be condoned but no-one will be allowed to take laws into his own hands.

Talking to journalists at the Bhog ceremony of 319th Baisakhi festival at Gurdwara Punja Sahib in Hassanabdal on Friday, he condemned the lynching of a student at Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan, adding that a report had been sought from the authorities concerned to ensure that no such incidents took place in future.

Twenty-three-year-old Mashal Khan, a sixth semester student of the BS journalism programme, was stripped, shot, thrown from the second floor of the hostel and brutally beaten to death by a mob for alleged blasphemy. Responding to a question, the minister said the government would ensure that the blasphemy law was not misused and those doing so were brought to justice.

He said the federal government had taken serious note of public complaints and had closed 1,700 sites carrying blasphemous content. He hinted at doing legislation to prevent the misuse of the blasphemy law.

He rejected a perception that Imam-i-Kaaba had visited Pakistan to deliver some secret message from Saudi rulers to the government of Pakistan.

Lynching of student at university condemned

He said that the appointment of former army chief retired Gen Raheel Sharif as commander of a Saudi-led military alliance of Muslim countries would not affect Islamabad’s ties with Riyadh and Tehran.

He said it was a matter of pride that a Pakistani had been chosen to head an alliance of 39 countries against terrorism.

Sardar Yousaf said legislation would be done to address issues relating to Sikh marriages in the country.

He said the government would strictly monitor the activities of private tour operators during Haj operation.

Earlier addressing as chief guest at the Bhog ceremony, he said the government was committed to providing complete religious freedom to Sikh pilgrims visiting Pakistan for various rituals.

He said the government was not only ensuring religious freedom for the minorities but also keeping their sacred places in good condition.

He said Pakistan issued visas to Sikhs coming from India, but New Delhi was busy in negative propaganda against Islamabad.

The chairman of the Evacuee Trust Property, Siddiqul Farooq, MPAs Rameesh Singh Arora and Shahwaiz Khan, president of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee Sardar Tara Singh and World Muslim-Sikh Federation president Manmohan Singh also spoke.

Published in Dawn, April 15th, 2017



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