Blasphemy laws won't be misused against Christians, Zardari assures Pope

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Rome, Oct. 2 (ANI): Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has assured Pope Benedict XVI that his government would ensure that blasphemy laws are not used against Christians.

During their meeting here, the Pope had asked Zardari to guarantee protection of minority Christians and ensure that a Gojra-like violence doesn't get repeated.

The Daily Times quoted a Vatican statement, as saying that Zardari's talks with the Pope and Vatican officials centred on minority Christians in Pakistan.

"Emphasis was given to the need to overcome all forms of discrimination based on religious affiliation, with the aim of promoting respect for the rights of all citizens," it said.

Nine people- including four women and a child -were killed in anti-Christian riots in Gojra in August. Christian homes were burnt after unsubstantiated accusations that some of them had desecrated the holy Quran.

According to the statement, the talks also focused on "elements that have favoured such incidents", an apparent reference to groups that have exploited Pakistan's blasphemy law, which allows the death penalty for blaspheming Islam.

The Pope and Zardari examined "the situation in Pakistan, with particular reference to terrorism and the commitment to create a society more tolerant and harmonious in all its aspects".

Zardari reportedly told the Pope that his government was committed to promoting interfaith harmony and tolerance, and that as why it had plans to set up a federal interfaith complex, in addition to interfaith harmony committees in all districts of the ountry. (ANI)

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