KARACHI/ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Syed Khurshid Shah appealed to religio-political parties on Thursday to call off Friday’s strike and categorically declared that the government was not bringing any bill to amend the blasphemy law.
Addressing a news conference, he said that after his categorical statement on the floor of the National Assembly on Wednesday an attempt to bring people on the street by exploiting religion was detrimental to the country’s interest.
He alleged that those agitating on the issue were exploiting religion for ulterior motives.
The strike call was given by the “Namoos-i-Risalat” conference held here recently under the auspices of Majlis-i-Tahafuz-i-Khatm-i-Nabuwwat.
He said the government had no plan to amend the Namoos-i-Risalat law and there was no such bill among the 13 bills it had tabled in the house.
Mr Shah said the PPP would never hurt the feelings of 180 million Muslims.
Replying to a question, he said the federal law minister told him that Mufti Muneebur Rehman had indicated that the strike would be called off if the government made a categorical statement in this regard.
The minister said that Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman had also been informed about a week ago that no bill to amend the law would be presented in parliament.
When asked why had the government formed a two-member committee if it did not contemplate a change in the blasphemy law, Mr Shah said the committee had been constituted to look into the problems being faced by minority communities.
A day earlier, in a policy statement on the floor of the National Assembly a similar assurance was given by Mr Shah.
Besides assuring that the government had no intention to repeal the blasphemy law, he disowned a bill submitted by PPP legislator Sherry Rehman proposing to do away with the mandatory death sentence for committing blasphemy. He said the government had nothing do with the private member’s bill.