LONDON: Pakistan High Commissioner to the United Kingdom Wajid Shamsul Hasan, while not subscribing to the views of the Railways Minister Ghulam Bilour, said it was a reaction and outburst of an individual in view of the latest blasphemy controversy.
He said Bilour, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) politician who placed a $100,000 bounty on the head of the California filmmaker behind the anti-Islam movie, was overwhelmed by the worldwide protests.
The British media seized on the comments of Pakistan’s railways minister and ran the news for the whole day in its headlines, giving it more coverage than the annual conference of the Liberal Democrats, junior coalition partner.
Speaking on Sky News, Hasan said he didn’t support Bilour’s bounty offer but understood why the minister, who belongs to the secular Awami National Party (ANP), called for a reprisal against the blasphemous filmmaker.
Hasan told Sky News and other media that Bilour’s party had suffered more than any other party in the ‘war against terror’ and had rendered enormous sacrifices against the Taliban and al-Qaeda but people like him felt humiliated and cornered when Islam’s holy figures were attacked and insulted on a routine basis. Hasan called for legislation to stop the increasing incidents of blasphemy.
Bilour told a press conference: “I announce today that this blasphemer, this sinner who has spoken nonsense about the Holy Prophet (SAW), anyone who murders him, I will reward him with $100,000. I invite the Taliban brothers and the al-Qaeda brothers to join me in this blessed mission.”
Hasan said, “Though two wrongs do not make a right, it has been widely quoted by the western media that the Americans are using al-Qaeda operatives in a bid to topple Basharul Assad’s government in Syria.
Hasan linked attacks on the US facilities around the world with the production of the blasphemous film which has united the Muslims in rage against the West. He was referring to the killing of US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans and attacks on US embassies around the Muslim world.
Although the Pakistani government was quick in distancing itself from the comments made by Bilour, but the railways minister’s appeal to the Taliban was nothing new and definitely not shocking for the people of Pakistan as he joined a growing list of high-profile politicians who had made appeals to Taliban militants. Rehman Malik, the Interior Minister, last year thanked the Taliban publicly for maintaining peace during the month of Muharram. In March 2010, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif stated that the Taliban should not target his province as his party, the PML-N, and the militants were fighting for the same causes and both had opposed former military ruler Pervez Musharraf.