The Sufis, you’ll recall, are widely believed in the West to be moderate, mystical, peaceful, live-and-let-live types. “Pakistan: Prime minister confirms govt has no plans to amend blasphemy law,” by Syed Saleem Shahzad for AKI, January 18 (thanks to Sr. Soph):
Islamabad, 18 Jan. (AKI) – Pakistan’s prime minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on Tuesday reiterated that the government does not intend to amend the country’s controversial blasphemy law, under which a Christian woman has been sentenced to death.
“Everybody trust me. The government trusts my statement and even the opposition parties believe whatever I promise to them,” he told Muslim scholars and spiritual guides from the mystical Sufi strand of the faith.
“You (Sufis) belong to me. Why don’t you trust when I say that government would never amend the Blasphemy law?” added Gilani, who hails from a revered Sufi family.
He said the parliamentary committee to review the blasphemy law following the sentencing to death last year of a Christian woman was formed in response to a private bill to amend the blasphemy law.
The committee was formed to make sure that nothing should be formulated against Islam and the popular wishes of the people, Gilani claimed.
It was not set up on the orders of the speaker of the national assembly or on his direct orders, but followed the bill tabled by ruling Pakistan Peoples Party MP Sherry Rahman, Gilani noted.
“I think it is to protect the blasphemy law rather than suggesting any amendment,” Gilani added.
The sentencing of a Asia Bibi, a Christian mother-of-five to death under the blasphemy law last November in eastern Pakistan sparked an international outcry. It came amid Rahman’s moves to reform the law, which has exposed a deep rift between conservatives and liberals in the Muslim country.
Religious parties and their supporters have staged protests across Pakistan over Rahman’s bill. They have praised the killer of late Punjab governor Salman Taseer, an outspoken critic of the blasphemy law who had appealed to Pakistan’s president Asif Ali Zarzari to save Bibi. Taseer was shot dead by his own bodyguard earlier this month.
The PPP has distanced itself from Taseer and brought forward Gilani to assure Pakistanis that government does not have any intention to reverse or amend the blasphemy law.
“If you closely watch the trends, the PPP government distant itself from Salman Taseer once religious edicts were issued against him. The PPP left him alone,” Punjab’s home minister Rana Sanaullah said in a TV talk show.
After Taseer’s murder, Zardari, who is also the PPP’s co-chairman, did not even attend the the slain governor’s funeral and travelled instead to his coastal residence in the southern port city of Karachi.
Muslim clerics refused to say prayers for Taseer and the prayers were offered by a PPP member instead.
The PPP instructed all its leaders including Rahman to change their stance, claiming the government could not withstand the pressure devout Muslims were exerting on it to retain the blasphemy law unamended….