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March 17, 2017

Govt will do all to end blasphemy: Nisar

Top Story

March 17, 2017

Says it will be made sure that no innocent person is punished; those involved in spot fixing will be jailed; how those who raise slogan of down with Pakistan can do politics here

ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar on Thursday said culprits of blasphemy were the enemies of humanity and will be dealt with firmly and ultimately. The government was fully prepared to take strict action against blasphemers and the whole nation stands with the government in this fight, he said this while addressing the inaugural ceremony of Facilitation Centre, established by the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Administration.

The minister said the government will make sure that no innocent is punished in this case. He questioned how can those who raise the slogan of down with Pakistan do politics here? He said those involved in spot fixing will be sent to jail. He said facilities such as international driving licence, computerised domicile and some others would be provided at this one-window centre.

Nisar said the government was making efforts to prevent blasphemous material on social media and in this regard meetings were held with the officials of the Ministry of Information Technology and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), adding majority of such sites had been blocked.

He said the Facebook administration had been asked to cooperate in tracing the criminals behind blasphemy while cooperation from the United States was also being sought through the US Embassy in Pakistan in this regard. The minister also urged the international community to have broad consultations on the issue of blasphemy as it has become a critical matter for the world.

Social media sites should cooperate to prevent uploading of any blasphemous content, he added. At the same time, Nisar asked all the Muslims countries to practice unity against sordid conspiracies against Islam as the matter of blasphemy hurts the feelings of all Muslims worldwide. "Ridiculing a religion in the name of freedom of expression should not be allowed," he said, adding that intelligence agencies were investigating to identify elements involved in blasphemous activities.

He said 11 people, who posted their comments on the blasphemous sites, have already been identified and process of their investigation has started. Authorities concerned were also in contact with Interpol to interrogate some people abroad, he said. The minister said every option will be used to remove the blasphemous material from Facebook and other social media websites under the directions of the prime minister.

Nisar said a senior officer at the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington has been given responsibility to speed up efforts to get required information from the Facebook management. Besides, services of prominent and internationally known lawyer were also being acquired to get legal opinion on the matter.

The interior minister said he had contacted Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi to approach the Muslim countries to get their support and prepare a joint strategy to prevent blasphemy. Replying to a question about the issue of Dawn Leaks, he said the committee investigating the matter had not yet presented its report to the Ministry of Interior. "As soon as we receive the report, we will send it to the government," he said.

To another question, Nisar said it was the present government which had rectified wrongdoings of previous tenures during the last three and a half years. He said during the present government's tenure, not a single wrong visa was issued and no wrong person was allowed to enter Pakistan.

Nisar said the Ministry of Interior would introduce an online visa system to make the process more transparent and flawless. "I don't blame anyone but many wrong visas were issued in the past for disturbing peace in Pakistan," he maintained.

Replying to another question, he said the home secretary of United Kingdom would visit Pakistan next week. He observed that Altaf Hussain had been involved in heinous crimes in Pakistan for the last 20 years and asked whether it was wrong if he tried to bring him to justice. "We have shared all the evidence regarding the murder of Imran Farooq with the United Kingdom and have now decided to send a team to London for further investigations," he added.

He questioned how a person sitting in London could do politics in Pakistan. Moreover, a party based in London, which was raising anti-state slogans and targeting the armed forces, had no right to do politics in Pakistan, he added. The minister said the government had sent the case of Altaf Hussain to Interpol and he (Nisar) was personally pursuing it. Lawyers had been hired to take the case to its logical conclusion, he added.

Nisar said systematic measures would be taken to curb corruption in Pakistan International Airlines (PIA). Regarding the initial inquiry report on some issues in PIA, he said a certain mafia was involved in mega corruption in the national carrier. He had also held a meeting with Adviser to the Prime Minister on Aviation Sardar Mehtab Ahmad Khan Abbasi, who assured him to provide full cooperation to the Federal Investigation Agency for probing some affairs of the institution, he added.

On the issue of spot-fixing during the second edition of Pakistan Super League (PSL), he said any cricketer found guilty would be prosecuted. "If the UK can jail cricketers for corruption, why can't we do the same," Nisar said. "We cannot let cricketers bring a bad name to Pakistan," he said, adding that spot-fixing was not just a matter between the the cricket board and few players. "Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) can only suspend or ban players, it doesn't have the authority to put them on trial," he added.

Nisar said the FIA had submitted its initial report on PSL spot-fixing and it was directed to continue investigation. Those responsible for spot-fixing would be jailed after completion of the inquiry, he added. The ceremony was attended by Inspector General of Police and other senior officials of police and district administration.