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The Dawn

Published Date: May 27, 2014

Remarks of NA body chief draw criticism

Chairman National Assembly standing committee on law, justice
and human rights Mehmood Bashir Virk faced criticism at a seminar here
on Monday.

Mr Virk, who belongs to the PML-N, was
speaking as chief guest at a seminar "Radicalism: role of civil society
and media" organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute
(SDPI), Minority Rights Group (MRG) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
of the Netherlands.

“People who comment on cases of blasphemy
should arrange security for themselves or refrain from commenting on
such sensitive issues,” he told the participants. He said Pakistani
society was liberal but some people tried to interfere in sensitive

As Mr Virk spoke, most of the participants expressed their displeasure.

after the end of his speech, senior security analyst Ejaz Haider said
he should be allowed to speak on behalf of the participants.

Haider said though the subject of the seminar was not blasphemy, it was
taken up by the chief guest, which showed the mindset of the people.

law of blasphemy was introduced by the British government but from 1947
to the regime of Ziaul Haq, not a single case of blasphemy was
registered in the country. Ziaul Haq gave teeth to the law by
introducing the death penalty for blasphemy. Though crime decreases with
the enhancement of the punishment, cases of blasphemy started
increasing after the amendment."

He said he had investigated as
many as 50 blasphemy cases and not a single of them was found correct.
Most of them were allegations and registered to settle personal scores.

Haider said mindset of people like Mr Virk had affected the society.
“His remarks are like that of the police. When a woman is raped, instead
of arresting the accused the police say her dress was objectionable.”

Director SDPI Dr Abid Suleri while talking to Dawn said there should be
the writ of the state and persons sitting in the treasury benches
should not say that they are helpless.

"Every citizen who casts
vote expects that he will be protected by the state which is a
fundamental right. I believe that if justice is ensured for everyone,
such kinds of issues will be resolved," he said.

Zafarullah Khan,
the head of the Centre for Civic Education, said it was the
responsibility of the government to provide protection to the people.

only freedom of expression has to be ensured but also freedom after
expression should be ensured. Politicians in government should not
comment like this," he said