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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has assured the European Parliament that Aasia Bibi and her family are entitled to all rights guaranteed under the Constitution of Pakistan.

He extended the assurance while talking to President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani, who telephoned him on Tuesday.

“As citizens of Pakistan, Aasia Bibi and her family are entitled to all rights as guaranteed by the Constitution of Pakistan,” a press release quoted the prime minister as saying.

He reaffirmed the government’s resolve to respect the judgement of the Supreme Court under which Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman who was initially sentenced to death by trial court, was acquitted of blasphemy charges.

During the telephonic conversation with Mr Tajani, Prime Minister Khan underscored the importance of respecting religious sentiments of all people. He called for dialogue as well as cooperation for promoting inter-faith harmony.

Mr Tajani thanked the prime minister for ensuring safety and security of Aasia Bibi and her family. He pledged cooperation with the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led government, saying the debate on Aasia Bibi in the EU Parliament had been postponed.

The prime minister also conveyed to the European Parliament’s president concerns of the government and people of Pakistan over the issue of blasphemous sketches of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), underscoring the need to redouble efforts in European countries to prevent such provocative practices, raise awareness about religious sensitivities of Muslims and promote inter-faith harmony.

Mr Khan praised the decision of the European Court of Human Rights not to take acts of blasphemy as cases involving right to freedom of expression.

He also expressed the hope that European countries would follow the decision of the court and take steps to enhance respect for each other’s religions.

MNAs from Karachi

During a meeting with members of the National Assembly hailing from Karachi, the premier stressed the need for resolving problems confronting the people of the megacity, including water scarcity and poor sewerage and drainage system.

Sindh Governor Imran Ismail briefed the meeting on the progress made on the Karachi Package announced by the prime minister.

The Minister for Maritime Affairs, Ali Zaidi, informed the meeting about the steps being taken to address water and transport issues, and job creation for the people of Karachi.

The prime minister also cut a Diwali cake along with the parliamentarians to express solidarity with the Hindu community living in Karachi.

Published in Dawn, November 14th, 2018

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