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ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Tuesday took suo motu notice of the losses caused by the riots that recently broke out in the country during the three-day protests organised by a group of religio-political parties over the acquittal of Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman, of a blasphemy charge.

The CJP directed the federal and the provincial governments to submit reports within three days on the losses and steps taken to compensate victims of these riots.

Chief Justice Nisar took notice “on media reports that huge losses have been caused to general public on account of judgement delivered by Supreme Court in Asia Masih Case,” a statement issued by the apex court said.

Religious affairs minister briefs PM on talks with TLP leadership

Soon after the apex court acquitted Aasia Bibi, the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) — led by Khadim Hussain Rizvi, Pir Afzal Qadri and other clerics — launched countrywide protests. The TLP leadership condemned the Supreme Court judges for the acquittal and also criticised the military leadership.

Meanwhile, riots broke out in different parts of the country causing damage to public and private properties.

The government then accepted the demands of the TLP’s leadership which led to the end of the protest. Later, on the directives of the interior ministry a crackdown was launched on “miscreants” who had damaged public and private properties during the protest.

Aasia Bibi, a mother of five, was awarded capital punishment by a trial court in November 2010 for committing alleged blasphemy during an altercation with two Muslim women in Sheikhupura over a glass of water in June 2009. The Lahore High Court upheld the decision of the trial court in its October 2014 ruling, which was finally reversed by the Supreme Court after hearing the suspect’s appeal on October 31.

Meanwhile, Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri has apprised Prime Minister Imran Khan about his interaction with the TLP leadership.

Mr Qadri had negotiated with the TLP leadership to seek an end to protests following Aasia Bibi’s acquittal and was a signatory to the agreement signed between the government and the religio-political organisation.

During a meeting with the prime minister along with Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, Mr Qadri discussed the coming Eid Miladun Nabi celebrations and holding of an international conference on Khatam-i-Nabuwat participants of which would include Imam-i-Kaaba and the chancellor of Al-Azhar University.

Earlier on Monday, Mr Qadri said on the floor of the National Assembly that the TLP’s protests were a matter of concern for both the government and the opposition and called for devising a long-term policy to prevent such incidents in the future. He said the government had nothing to do with the Supreme Court’s decision, adding that the PTI government would defend the blasphemy laws at every forum.

Published in Dawn, November 7th, 2018

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