Govt promises to protect, respect all religions as Bilawal backs PM for rule of law

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National Assembly

ISLAMABAD: The religious parties protest against acquittal of Asia Bibi Thursday echoed in National Assembly as the opposition demanded of the government to inform the house about steps being taken for the rule of law in the country.
Meanwhile, the government assured the National Assembly, which met with speaker Asad Qaier in the chair, that it was state’s responsibility to protect and respect all religions and schools of thought.
Responding to Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s speech, who demanded of the government to inform the house about steps being taken for protection of judges, Asia Bibi and rule of law in the country, Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi said it was the state’s responsibility to protect and respect all religions and schools of thought.
“It is the state’s responsibility to protect, to respect, all places of worships, all religions, all thoughts. This is the attitude [that will prevail] in Naya Pakistan,” he said.
The minister emphasised that it was the Parliament’s responsibility to assess all attitudes and keep humanity above all considerations.
“[It’s only when] all of Pakistan is united that our external issues, national interests and key stakes will be protected,” he said.
Referring to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s address to the nation, Afridi said the speech had a unified message. “The message was: there will be no compromise on the rule of law,” he told the House. “Nobody needs a certificate from anyone. Nobody will dictate anyone in this country.”
The minister said there had been an attempt to form a state within a state on the name of religion. “We will not let anyone challenge the writ of the state in Naya Pakistan.”
Afridi lauded Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari for standing behind Prime Minister Imran Khan at a time when unity is the need of the hour.
“I appreciate what PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has said because at a time when there could have been political point-scoring he said that it was important to uphold the rule of law & the Constitution”.
Earlier, Bilawal Bhutto demanded of the government to ensure security of the judges and Asia Bibi. He commended Prime Minister Imran Khan for sending a strong message to the agitators that the rule of law would prevail.
“We are with you Prime Minister Imran Khan. We are with the state, we are with democracy, with the rule of law,” he had said. However, he said that the prime minister and interior minister should take his responsibility seriously. He should take this house seriously, Bilawal said, adding that he did not share the criticism of the some opposition members. But, he said, the prime minister should come to house and inform the members about the steps being taken for rule of the law in the country.
Earlier, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Khursheed Shah criticised Prime Minister Imran Khan for “running away” from the Parliament at a time when the country is threatened by unrest, and said the premier’s body language was “aggressive” when he addressed the nation yesterday.
“Prime Minister Imran Khan should have been [here in the Parliament] today. The roads are blocked, people have been restricted to their homes, there is [violence]. He should not be running away. The PM and the interior minister should have been present here today,” Shah said.
“We fear the anarchy may spread. We are not talking about [our] vote bank. We should [all] be worried at the state of affairs. I strongly condemn the speech by PM yesterday,” he added.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Saad Rafique, said a ruler’s attitude should not be “so aggressive” and the prime minister should have taken the House into confidence today over the matter.
“The religion card that you used against [the previous government] in the past, is now being used against you,” Rafique said while addressing the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government.
Federal Minister for Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mahmood slammed Khursheed Shah for “playing politics” instead of standing behind Prime Minister Imran Khan in his resolve to keep the writ of the state intact.
“PM Imran Khan is the first ever leader to take [such a] strong stance in Pakistan’s history. Nobody spoke out in the past, Imran Khan addressed [220 million] people with bravery and reaffirmed the writ of the state,” the PTI leader said.
“This is not about the government, this is about the state. Instead of praising the PM’s stance [against the agitators], instead of condemning those who mocked the institutions, you chose to play politics for small gains,” Mahmood addressed Shah.

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