ISLAMABAD: The government has no intention to recognise Israel and is determined to stand by the oppressed Palestinians as well as Kashmiris, according to Hafiz Tahir Ashrafi, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Middle East and Religious Affairs.
Talking to the media on Wednesday, Hafiz Ashrafi, who heads the Pakistan Ulema Council (PUC), said the prime minister had recently stated that the country was being pressured to recognise Israel, but expressed his resolve that “Islamabad will not compromise on the rights of fellow Muslims”.
In reply to a question, the special assistant recalled that Riyadh had already denied the reports about a meeting between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Israeli prime minister. “Prime Minister Imran Khan has clearly said that Pakistan will not recognise Israel, Saudi Arabia has a similar position on the issue of Palestine.”
The SAPM said he had recently discussed the issues of forced conversion through marriage and the misuse of blasphemy laws with Dr Shireen Mazari, the federal Minister for Human Rights.
Ashrafi points out Saudi Arabia has denied reports of meeting between crown prince and Israeli premier
The misuse of section 295-C of the penal code, which relates to blasphemy, had dropped significantly in the recent past, Hafiz Ashrafi added.
“Those who are trying to push their personal agenda under cover of blasphemy laws are sincere neither to Islam nor to Pakistan,” he observed. “We will not allow anyone to misuse the law.”
He acknowledged that the misuse of blasphemy law and forced conversions were occurring due to the state’s failure to ensure the rule of law.
“We are taking steps to ensure all religious minorities are protected as the state is responsible for safeguarding the rights of every individual.”
Hafiz Ashrafi said the Constitution was the best guarantor of the rights of every Muslim as well as non-Muslim living in the country.
“Islam does not allow us to coerce non-Muslims to become Muslim,” he said. “And forced conversion through marriage is an undignified act.”
He said the human rights ministry was working on a mechanism to eliminate the fear of forced marriage among non-Muslims.
“Efforts are being made at the grassroots level to create inter-faith and inter-religious harmony through the establishment of councils.”
Published in Dawn, November 26th, 2020