Pak govt has "no intention to repeal anti-blasphemy law"

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Islamabad, Dec 30 (ANI): In a move to appease religious parties, the Pakistan government has told the National Assembly that it has "no intention" to change the controversial anti-blasphemy law, which is often seen misused against members of minority communities in the country.

Religious Affairs Minister Khurshid Ahmed Shah interrupted the house proceedings to make a policy statement "with full responsibility" that the "government has no intention to repeal the anti-blasphemy law and to disown a private bill of a PPP member proposing changes in the Zia-era law to abolish a mandatory death sentence against a convict provided by it and to guard against miscarriage of justice."

The government assurance came ahead of what has been described as a countrywide "shutter down strike" called for Friday by a religious group seeking to protect the dignity of the holy prophet Mohammad (PBUH), or "namoos-i-risalat".

The "shutter down strike" call was given by the "Namoos-i-Risalat" conference held in Islamabad on December 15 under the auspices of Majlis-i-Tahafuz Khatam-e-Nabuwat, which was also attended by the representatives of some banned religious groups operating under new names.

"The government regards safeguarding 'namoos-i-risalat' as its responsibility and believes in it", the Dawn quoted Ahmed Shah, as saying.

"If someone has brought a private bill, it has nothing to do with the government," he added, referring to the draft that has been submitted by former information minister Sherry Rehman but is yet to come before the house.

Ahmed Shah also assured the house that the government would not allow any wrong to be done to minorities, which have often complained of false accusations made against their members under a law enforced by former military dictator Gen Mohammad Zia-u-Haq as part of his controversial campaign to Islamise the Pakistani society.

But the Religious Affairs Minister did not specify any measures to do that. (ANI)

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