On PML-N's opportunistic politics on Aasia bibi

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LAHORE: The Pakistan Muslim League-N is not contemplating any action against its member of parliament from Faisalabad, Sahibzada Fazl Karim, despite the fact that he violated the party stance on the alleged blasphemy committed by Aasia Bibi, the sources in the party informed Daily Times.

The sources said the top PML-N leadership has shown no or least interest to violation of the party stance on the alleged incident, as it believes that the court has handed down the verdict on Aasia Bibi on the basis of a weak complaint and dubious evidence. Sahibzada Fazl Karim was elected on a PML-N ticket from Faisalabad in 2002 and 2008 general elections. The sources said the PML-N leadership was of the considered view that the party stance notwithstanding the public outcry by religious right demands expediency on the part of the party leadership as any action against Fazl Karim could affect the party vote bank across the country. The sources said though Fazl Karim-led Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC)’s announcement to contest next general election from SIC platform amounts to violation of the party discipline yet the party thought it was prudent to let the matter pass unnoticed. The SIC long march, which was initially planned to condemn terrorist attacks on shrines, was allowed to convert into condemnation of the blasphemy incident of Sheikhupura, ignoring the divide existing in society over the flaws in the law.

The PML-N sources said: “Sahibzada Fazl Karim was riding on the shoulders of his own constituents and if he was reprimand as the party discipline demands before or after the long march it could have negative effects on the party support in the urban centres of Punjab.” The sources said the top PML-N leadership has, however, advised the Punjab government to provide maximum security to Aasia Bibi in jail to avoid the repetition of incidents in which accused of blasphemy were murdered in jail. The PML-N government is aware of the need to protect the life of Aasia Bibi and has instructed the officials concerned to provide her maximum security, said an official of the provincial home department on the condition of anonymity. (Source)

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  1. Long March: Sunni Ittehad stumbles at Punjab govt roadblock – by Sher Khan

    Sunni leaders say thousands arrested in province-wide crackdown, but minister says not one protestor arrested.
    LAHORE: The Sunni Ittehad Council’s long march from Rawalpindi to Lahore hit a major Punjab government roadblock on Saturday, as the planned mass protest failed to swell beyond a small trickle.

    Sunni Ittehad leaders accused the provincial government of conducting a mass crackdown and arresting thousands of activists. The government denied that any arrests had been made and insisted the police were there only to provide security and maintain law and order.

    Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said the police had tried to disrupt the schedule for the long march by holding up activists on the way at various roadblocks and delay their joining up with the main rally. They had also warned the heads of madrassas against encouraging their students to join the long march.

    He said the police held up some 800 people at Sohawa Bridge. “After three hours there were only 300 left,” he added. He said the police also stopped the protestors from entering Rawalpandi city and told them to head to Lahore via the Expressway, but they would not listen and so the police had to stop them.

    He denied claims from Sunni leaders of mass arrests, saying not a single activist had been arrested in Punjab. “We are doing this for the security of the Sunni leaders who are under serious threat,” Sanaullah said. “Fazle Kareem, Sarwat Ijaz Qadri and Hanif Tayyab have all been the subject of murder attempts by terrorists. It is the government’s duty to take steps for their security. We are not afraid of their protests or slogans.”

    Sunni leaders gave varying estimates about the number of arrests, with Jamia Naeemia spokesman topping the charts with his claim of “7,000-8,000”. They warned the Punjab government that its actions would alienate Sunni Ittehad supporters.

    “This will have huge repercussions for the PML-N because the people who follow Ahle Sunnat leaders think that the Punjab government is supporting the terrorists,” said Jamia Naeemia head Raghib Naeemi.

    Naeemi, who participated in the long march, said that he would meet with the Sunni Ittehad leadership in Lahore to discuss what to do. “This long march was a popular demand,” he said. “The government has tear-gassed innocent people who were taking a stand against terror. They should focus on dealing with the issue rather than treating this initiative as a threat.”

    Naeemi said that the decision to impose Section 144 to ban public assembly in various areas indicated a “great intolerance”. He insinuated that Sanaullah had pushed the Punjab government to crack down on the long march because he felt threatened by the council. He said Sanaullah should be sacked for having links to Ahmed Ludhianvi of Sipah-e-Sahaba, a banned group. “The government wants to make the people and country collapse,” said Sunni Ittehad Council chairman Sahibzada Fazle Karim. “It is the government’s job to eradicate terror and violence but they don’t seem to care about anything. We are challenging American-financed drone attacks, inflation, unemployment and most of all we are asking the government ensure the rule of law.”

    Karim resigned on Saturday from the Muttahida Ulema Board, a government sponsored body that promotes sectarian harmony, in protest at the treatment of Sunni Ittehad activists.

    SIC General Secretary Haji Hanif told The Express Tribune that the police began a crackdown two nights ago, “Even if Shabaz Sharif were to come with talk offers at this point we would ignore him because this is about protecting Pakistan against terrorism,” he said.

    Published in The Express Tribune, November 28th, 2010.

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