Following retired Capt Muhammad Safdar's diatribe in the National Assembly on Tuesday, in which he attacked the persecuted Ahmadi community, reactions from political parties — including Safdar's own PML-N — have been slow and scarce.
Safdar, who is former prime minister Nawaz Sharif's son-in-law, had launched a vociferous attack against the Ahmadi community, describing them as a “threat to this country” and demanding that its members be banned from induction into the government and military service.
While majority of the ruling PML-N has stayed mum on the speech delivered by the lawmaker, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal called it "tragic" in a tweet on Thursday.
"It is tragic to see hate speech against minorities in National Assembly. We believe in [an] inclusive Pakistan," said Iqbal who is currently in the United States. "Pakistan respects all minorities."
Human rights lawyer and activist Asma Jahangir, hours after Safdar's tirade, had demanded that Nawaz take notice of the "unacceptable and highly discriminatory" speech, urging all political parties to condemn it.
Read: Capt Safdar’s tirade
"Such words are spoken by those who we consider to be extremists; such remarks being made by a member of the NA is shocking," the activist had said on a DawnNews talk show. "I believe Capt Safdar tried to incite [hatred]. While speaking in the NA, one must maintain respect."
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, in a tweet on Wednesday, had also condemned the speech without mentioning Captain Safdar's name.
'Every Pakistani should be equally honoured'
During his speech, he also called for Nobel Laureate Dr Abdus Salam’s name to be delinked from Quaid-i-Azam University’s physics department, which has recently been renamed — by his own father-in-law — in honour of the celebrated Pakistani scientist. The grounds for the lawmaker's objections being the scientist's Ahmadi faith.
Speaking to Dawn.com on Wednesday, Dr Javed Ashraf, vice-chancellor of the university, said that the renaming of the centre had been approved by Nawaz in December 2016.
"I feel every Pakistani should honour top intellectuals — regardless of their caste, colour and creed," Dr Ashraf said. "Every Pakistani should be equally honoured for their achievements."
Calling for 'action' against the community, Safdar, a former military serviceman, had also said that he wanted to bring a resolution in the National Assembly calling for a “ban on recruitment of Qadianis [Ahmadis] in the armed forces".
Safdar and his wife Maryam are currently facing a trial in the National Accountably Bureau's court with regards to the Avenfield reference.
On Oct 2, the accountability court had issued non-bailable arrest warrants against Safdar for failing to appear in court for hearings despite notices. Following this, he was taken into custody earlier this week by a NAB team minutes after his arrival in Islamabad from London. He was later released on bail after he submitted surety bonds worth Rs5 million.