Pakistan News

NA unanimously adopts resolution against blasphemous sketches after noisy session

The National Assembly on Monday unanimously passed a resolution condemning the publication of blasphemous caricatures in France and the "resurgence of Islamophobic acts" in some countries after a noisy session that saw the government and opposition deliver fiery speeches against each other.

The ruckus initially began due to the opposition and government wanting to present their own versions of the resolution but after lawmakers from both sides exchanges barbs over other political issues, Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri suspended the session for 10 minutes to allow the government and opposition to devise consensus on the resolution.

The move proved fruitful, with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi returning to announce that the government and opposition members had agreed on a unanimous resolution by clubbing their two versions.

According to the resolution read out by the minister, the National Assembly while taking serious note of the republication of blasphemous caricatures depicting Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) and the desecration of the Holy Quran in Norway and Sweden "condemns in strongest terms the resurgence of blasphemous and Islamophobic acts by mischievous elements in some parts of the world".

The lower house also expressed serious concern at the "highly concerning statements and hate-mongering especially by leaders like [French] President Emmanuel Macron justifying unlawful propagation and insult to sentiments of more than a billion Muslims through such hate-driven acts under the garb of freedom of expression".

"[The assembly] condemns unequivocally the practice of blasphemy and of insulting prophets of Islam, Christianity and Judaism alike," according to the resolution, which also denounced acts of terror carried out in the name of any religion.

It deplored the "equating of Islam and Muslims with terrorism" and in order to effectively address the issue, urged the government to:

The resolution, which was subsequently passed unanimously, also called upon all non-OIC countries to provide legal avenues to Muslims residing in their territory for the redressal of their genuine grievances and urged the United Nations secretary general and UN high commissioner for human rights to "immediately initiate a global dialogue for inter-faith harmony and the countering of rising Islamophobia".

Earlier, the house witnessed a ruckus as PML-N's Khawaja Asif criticised the government over employing alleged undemocratic practices and presented a resolution to condemn the blasphemous caricatures.

Foreign Minister Qureshi read out another resolution that the government wanted to be passed with consensus on the issue of blasphemy. With opposition members chanting "voting! voting!" for the resolution presented by Asif, a furious Qureshi accused the opposition of "doing politics" on the sensitive matter.

Qureshi said the entire world was anguished over the publication of the blasphemous caricatures and he was disappointed to see the opposition's "non-serious attitude" on the grave issue.

"They want to do politics even on such a sacred matter," he said amid continued noise from the opposition benches.

He said the publication of the sketches had hurt the sentiments of the entire Muslim world and was reflective of the "rising trend of Islamophobia". He added that he had presented a resolution condemning the act on the government's behalf and wanted it to be passed with consensus but the opposition instead resorted to political statements.

Earlier in the day, the Foreign Office (FO) had summoned the French ambassador to Pakistan, Marc Baréty, to lodge a "strong protest" against the publication of blasphemous sketches and recent comments made by the French president.

The French envoy was conveyed Pakistan's "deep concerns over the recent systematic resurgence of blasphemous acts of republication of caricatures of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and desecration of the Holy Quran by certain irresponsible elements", the FO spokesperson said in a statement.

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