Pakistan is a civilized country

Pakistan's prime minister wants to enforce blasphemy laws in Europe

The head of government of Pakistan wants to force the western governments to criminalize blasphemy. Imran Khan, speaking to supporters, stated that his plan to unite Muslim countries against the West in order to criminalize "insulting the Prophet Muhammad" would work. The 68-year-old former cricketer said lobbying for blasphemy laws with Western nations, the EU and the United Nations would be successful if tied to threats of a trade boycott.

The leaders of the Muslim states should insist that the West no longer violates the "feelings of Muslims" with its laws, reported the Pakistani media. According to Khan, "insulting the Prophet Mohammed" should be punished in the same way as the denial of the Holocaust, ie the murder of six million Jews by the Nazis.

Threatened trade boycott

"Together we should ask Europe, the EU and the UN to stop hurting the feelings of 1.25 billion Muslims, as they are doing in the case of the Jews," said Khan. "I want to get the Muslim countries to adopt a common approach on blasphemy, with a warning against a trade boycott against states where such things are happening." His Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has already spoken to four of his colleagues from Muslim countries about the plans.

Street battles over Mohammed cartoons

In the past few days, the prime minister has come under massive pressure from a right-wing extremist Islamist party, which is demanding the expulsion of the French ambassador because the satirical magazine "Charlie Hebdo" has published cartoons about Mohammed in France.

The Tehreek-i-Labbaik (TLP) party caused violent riots and road blockades for days after its leader Saad Hussain Rizvi was arrested. TLP supporters killed six police officers and injured another 800, some of them taken hostage. Khan said he had a different approach to attacking "Islamophobia". The TLP's approach of forcing the government to expel the ambassador is not a viable solution.

Negotiations with Islamists

Khan's government banned the TLP because of the wave of violence and still negotiated with the Islamists. A parliamentary session to vote on the expulsion of the ambassador was scheduled according to the party's demands. Arrested rioters were released and many proceedings dropped. The TLP then withdrew its people from the street.

The parliament, however, felt that it had been instrumentalized by the government and refused to implement the plans. The government had considered forming its own parliamentary committee under the leadership of parliamentary speaker Asad Qaiser. The proposed resolution was not put to the vote after the Pakistani Muslim League (PML-N) and the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam party (JUI-F) rejected the idea of ​​a committee and a broad debate on the subject of "the holiness of the Prophets "requested.

PML-N and JUI-F caused a riot in parliament with their protest. The opposition members demanded that the government present the agreement with the TLP, which they signed. Those responsible for the bloodshed in the country would have to be named.

The Pakistani People's Party (PPP) also boycotted the meeting last week. PPP leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari sharply criticized the government. At no time did Parliament involve Parliament in the matter and now wants to hide behind Parliament. "It's your mess Prime Minister, clean it up or go home," wrote Bhutto on Twitter.

Khan himself had recently warned against deporting the French ambassador - half of Pakistan's textile exports would be delivered to the EU, a diplomatic affront would cost the country dearly. The government's zigzag strategy is now proving to be a boomerang, threatening to completely lose control.

Police offended

The police also feel offended by the government's actions. "It is not a problem to negotiate with protesters," said a police officer who had been held hostage in the meantime, to "Arab News": "But how can you release those who have killed, tortured and tortured the law enforcement officers?" A senior police officer from Punjab Province said it was going to be difficult to keep the police units motivated: "After what has been done to us, the police see no point in doing their job."

"Civilized and Democratic Society"

For Information Minister Chaudry Fawad Hussain, however, the government's decision to negotiate the expulsion of the French ambassador in parliament was not a "surrender". "As in all civilized and democratic societies, the government has agreed to discuss the matter in parliament and resolve it according to the wishes of the Pakistani people," said Hussain. This shows the strength and determination of the government and not a weakness.

Dozens of "blasphemy" murders

Blasphemy is punishable by death in Pakistan. The most prominent victim of the blasphemy laws is the Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi, who waited many years in captivity for her execution until she was acquitted and allowed to leave the country. She now lives in France, where she received asylum. Since 1990, at least 78 people have been murdered in Pakistan on allegations of blasphemy.

Relations between Islamabad and Paris have deteriorated massively since last autumn. French President Emmanuel Macron had stated at a memorial service for the teacher Samuel Paty, who was brutally murdered in the street by an Islamist, that France was not thinking of abolishing freedom of expression. Paty fell victim to Islamic fundamentalism because he had discussed the subject of freedom of expression in class using cartoons of Mohammed from the satirical magazine "Charlie Hebdo". France has repeatedly been the target of bloody attacks in recent years, with several hundred people murdered by Islamists. (Michael Vosatka, April 29, 2021)