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January 22, 2015

Sindh lawmakers demand action over blasphemous sketches


January 22, 2015

The provincial lawmakers unanimously passed a resolution during the assembly session on Wednesday, condemning the publication of blasphemous sketches in a French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo.
They also demanded that the Organisation of Islamic Conference, the European Union and the United Nations should take notice of the issue and take stern action against those responsible for publishing such material.
It was demanded in the resolution that the federal government should summon the French ambassador to the Foreign Office to formally lodge its protest against the blasphemous sketches and take up the issue with the OIC, the EU and the UN.
Some lawmakers also described the repeated publication of blasphemous sketches and write-ups as an international conspiracy aimed at creating a “clash of civilisations”.
Before the resolution was adopted, it was read out separately during the session by MPAs Syed Sardar Ahmed of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Nisar Ahmed Khuhro of the Pakistan People’s Party and Nusrat Sehar Abbasi of the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional.
The resolution read: “The publication of blasphemous caricatures and cartoons relating to the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) published by Jyillands-Postan in Denmark and then by more than 50 newspapers in the non-Islamic world in 2005; the derogatory remarks of Byzantine Emperor Manuel II publicised by Benedict XVI in Germany in 2006 and worst of all, the culmination of such offensive and derogatory caricatures by Charlie Hebdo published in Paris recently has not only hurt but enraged the sentiments of the Muslim Ummah all over the world. Freedom of expression does not mean violation of Article 20 of the International Convention of Civil and Political Rights. This is a malicious attack on the sanctity of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and deliberate attempt to incite violence and create discord amongst various religions. Islam is a faith of peace and tolerance which

promotes freedom of speech but the publication of blasphemous caricatures in the name of freedom of expression is tantamount to insulting Islam. The House, thus, not only condemns such despicable and provocative caricatures and cartoons against the sanctity of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) but also demands that the Organisation of Islamic Conference, the European Union, and the United Nations should take notice of such anti-Islam speeches and publications that incite violence and promotes a clash of civilisations; and take stern action against such culprits and award exemplary punishment to them.”
Earlier, the treasury and opposition lawmakers took part in an hours-long debate on the issue on an adjournment motion presented in the House by PPP lawmaker Dr Sohrab Khan Sarki
The lawmakers put forth several suggestions for intensifying the protest drive against the blasphemous sketches so that European governments could be compelled to ban the publishing of such material.
The MPAs suggested that the products and services of European countries, where such material was published, should be boycotted by the entire Muslim world, especially by the Arab nations.
They said the OIC should be reactivated again to respond to such actions by the western world that hurt the sentiments of Muslims.
The lawmakers asked the prime minister to approach the UN to have a resolution passed against the publishing of blasphemous sketches.
Some legislators said the federal government had been delaying taking up the issue with the EU and the UN, so Sindh should approach them on its own.
The legislators also proposed staging a peaceful protest in front of the French consulate in Karachi and submit a memorandum there against the blasphemous sketches.
Former chief minister Dr Arbab Ghulam Rahim, now an opposition MPA, also spoke on the issue - his first speech in the House since the tenure of the previous provincial legislature.
He offered his support to the government on the issue of the blasphemous sketches.
Other MPAs who participated in the debate included Makhdoom Jamil-uz-Zaman, Jam Khan Shoro, Shamim Mumtaz Wasi, Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani, Khairunnisa Mughal, Murad Ali Shah, Muhammad Hussain, Waqar Hussain Shah and Sajid Jokhio.

There was a lengthy argument between the lawmakers of the ruling PPP and the opposition MQM as to whose resolution would be passed on the issue of the blasphemous sketches.
The MQM lawmakers said they had submitted a resolution on January 16 so it should be preferred over the one filed by the PPP.
The PPP lawmakers argued that one of their colleagues had submitted an adjournment motion – a more appropriate way to discuss issues of greater importance – during the proceedings.
Deputy Speaker Syed Shehla Raza ruled that the adjournment motion of the PPP lawmaker would be given preference and the MQM resolution would be taken up later.

Two token walkouts
The house also witnessed two token walkouts by the opposition lawmakers.
The MQM legislators walked out at the start of the proceedings after the speaker did not allow them to raise the issue of extra-judicial killings of its activists in Karachi in recent weeks.
The second token walkout was staged by the lawmakers of the PML-F and the Muslim League-Nawaz, led by opposition leader Sheharyar Khan Mahar, on the issue of the support price of sugarcane in the province.
The protesting legislators said the treasury members had failed to provide a satisfactory reply as to why the provincial government had failed to have its notified sugarcane support price of Rs182 per 40 kg implemented.
They said the situation was causing a financial setback to growers and agriculturalists.

SPSC chairman
Information and local government minister Sharjeel Inam Memon told the House that Sindh Public Service Commission chairman Justice (retd) Agha Rafiq Ahmed Khan had not resigned under duress, but did so over personal reasons.
PML-F’s Nusrat Sehar Abbasi had raised the issue in the house over newspaper reports that the SPSC chairman had resigned because of his role in controversial appointments.

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