10/09/2009, 00.00
PAKISTAN
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Muslim leader: government hostage to the extremists will not abolish the blasphemy law

by Fareed Khan
Irfan Mufti denounces the "weakness" of the executive which needs the fundamentalist wing to stay in power. He speaks of a "game of compromise" and the lack of "political will" to reject the norm. Archbishop Saldanha thanks Muslim MPs who proposed the abolition of the law.

Lahore (AsiaNews) - The ruling party Pakistan People's Party (PPP) is "weak" and is not able to "abolish the blasphemy law." So says Irfan Mufti, director of South Asian Partnership-Pakistan (SAP-PK), who tells AsiaNews that the country lacks the "political will" to reject the "controversial law”. Meanwhile, Msgr. Lawrence John Saldanha, president of the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), sent a personal letter of thanks to colleagues who have proposed the abolition of the norm in the parliamentary session of 8 October.

Irfan Mufti, Muslim, explains that "some of the allies in government” are of religious extraction and “have no intention” of abolishing the blasphemy law; the government, on the other hand, does not want to lose the support of these parties and perpetrates "a game of compromise" that does not allow substantial changes in the country.  

Commenting on some recent statements by President Asif Ali Zardari, who last week met with Pope Benedict XVI, the director of SAP-PK underlines the fact that there is "only political vacuum" and questions "what the concrete steps" have been undertaken by the Head of State to "stop the abuse of the blasphemy law".   The Muslim leader confirms the position of the organization - in conjunction with a broader civil society movement that brings together the countries of South Asia - which "calls for the complete abolition of the blasphemy law" because it "goes against the people and social harmony".

 Two months after the events at Gojra, which killed seven Christians, there are no signs that justice will be ensured for victims. Archbishop Lawrence John Saldanha is "worried" because he fears that even in this case - as happened several times in the past - the attackers will go unpunished. The prelate, however, has wanted to thank the parliamentary Muslims who, in recent days have called for the abolition of this law.  

Mgr Joseph Coutts, bishop of Faisalabad, reports that he "is still waiting" for a "public inquiry into the events in Gojra," as assured long ago by  the Chief Minister of Punjab. The Christians of the village, meanwhile, denounce "new death threats" and live "hidden away from the extremists who want to eliminate us all from the city".

 

 

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