ISLAMABAD: Criticising the government for what he claimed selective use of sedition clauses, Tanzeem-ul-Madaris Ahle Sunnat president Mufti Muneebur Rehman on Sunday sought pardon for Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) leaders Khadim Hussain Rizvi and Pir Afzal Qadri to ensure peaceful atmosphere and religious harmony.
Addressing a news conference at the National Press Club, he apologised on behalf of the TLP leaders to Prime Minister Imran Khan, Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar and Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa for issuing contemptuous statements against them. At the same time, he urged the apex court to constitute a full bench and hear them in the Aasia Bibi case.
Mufti Muneeb said the government had a full-fledged minister for religious affairs who should speak on behalf of the government on religious matters and Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry should avoid meddling in sensitive religious issues and restrict himself to the “political circus”.
Calls for full bench of Supreme Court in Aasia Bibi case
The top TLP leaders, including Khadim Rizvi and Afzal Qadri, were taken into ‘protective custody’ on Nov 23 as they had announced holding a public rally in Islamabad.
On Saturday, Fawad Chaudhry announced registration of sedition cases against the TLP leaders.
Mufti Muneeb, who is also chairman of the Central Ruet-i-Hilal Committee, was accompanied by religious figures including Syed Hussainuddin Shah, Allama Ghulam Mohammad Sialvi, Abdul Mustafa Hazarvi and Syed Ziaul Haq Shah at the press conference.
He urged the authorities to show leniency towards the TLP leaders and workers just like they had showed towards the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf in 2014 after the party had staged a sit-in despite the losses of public property.
Mufti Muneeb said it was unfair to register sedition cases against the people who were patriots and always cared about Pakistan. “I suggest that a law should be passed to deal with such issues in future.”
He asked the authorities to reconsider their decision, otherwise it was very easy for him to give a call for a protest for Friday.
“We are peaceful people and don’t want to create any problem in the country. They should realise that even the superpower has failed to control terrorism by use of force. So the authorities should adopt a peaceful way to resolve the issue,” he suggested.
In reply to a question, Mufti Muneeb said that religious circles had reservations over the Supreme Court’s decision in the Aasia Bibi case. He said that not only a full bench should be constituted, but representatives of religious circles such as Khadim Rizvi and Afzal Qadri should also be allowed to record their statements.
“If Sheikh Rashid and Sirajul Haq can be summoned in the Panama Papers case, why religious scholars cannot be called in a blasphemy case which is obviously a more important issue as compared to Panama Papers,” he said.
Mufti Muneeb said religious circles had supported all the military operations, including the one in Swat, so their patriotism was beyond any doubt.