LAHORE - Leaders of religious parties from all schools of thought, joined by the bigwigs of PML-N, PML-Q, PML-Zia and PTI, at a mammoth rally in the provincial metropolis on The Mall on Sunday vowed to render any sacrifice for protecting the blasphemy law, saying that no Muslim would compromise on the honour of Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
Thousands of people participated in the rally organised by Tuhaffaz-e-Namoos-e-Risalat Mahaz (TNRM) from Nasir Bagh to the Faisal Chowk where the top leadership of the mainstream political and religious parties addressed highly-charged participants. The participants were carrying flags of different religious parties, placards and banners inscribed with writings in favour of blasphemy law and against Pope Benedict, the US and European Parliament.
Highly-charged participants continued waving flags inscribed with Kalima Tayyaba throughout the proceedings of the rally. They were also beatings effigies of Pope Benedict, Sherry Rehman, Fauzia Wahab, Shahbaz Bhatti and Aasia Bibi with sticks.
The demonstrators chanted slogans 'Mumtaz Qadri Ko Raha Karo, Gustakh-e-Rasool Ki Saza Sar Tun Se Judda, Ghulami-e-Rasool Main Maut Be Qabool Hai.
Law enforcement agencies made unprecedented security arrangements to avoid any untoward happening during the mammoth rally. The Police closed down The Mall, from Nasir Bagh to the Governors House, for traffic a couple of hours before the start of the rally. Though it was weekend holiday, massive traffic jams were witnessed on the adjoining arteries due to closure of The Mall. The Police allowed entry to the participants after thorough search and that too only from Masjad-e-Shuhada and Nasir Bagh. Besides policemen in uniform, plain-clothed men were also deputed to keep a close eye on the participants. Trained shooters were also deputed on almost all multi storey buildings on both sides of the Mall, from Nasir Bagh to Faisal Chowk.
Addressing the rally, JUI-F Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman urged the religious parties to continue maintaining unity in their ranks and make concerted and serious efforts for protecting blasphemy law.
Referring to the ongoing Tuhaffaz-e-Namoos-e-Risalat Tehreek, he said the flood of people would not stop before reaching the destination of protecting the blasphemy law. He said the Tehreek would be further strengthened and a big rally would be organised in Peshawar on February 20.
He declared that demonstrations would be held on every Friday till February 20. He said at the moment, the nation only had one-point agenda of protecting Namoos-e-Risalat.
Unemployment, price hike, loadshedding and lawlessness have made the life of common man miserable. But the people have shown more concerns on Namoos-e-Risalat than all other issues, the JUI-F Chief said, adding, the people would never allow the rulers to make any amendment in the blasphemy law. He urged the rulers to take a clear stance on blasphemy law instead of misguiding the nation by giving vague clarifications.
Referring to the participation of such a huge number of people in the rally, he said the nation had conveyed a strong message to Pope Benedict, the US and European Parliament. He said the people had made it clear that they would not let the present regime to implement the US agenda in the country.
They (western countries) made attempts to damage Islamic values and culture, imposed ban on construction of minarets, published blasphemous caricatures of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and subjected Muslims to inhuman treatment, he regretted.
Referring to the fresh upsurge in Arab countries, Fazl stated that the US would fail to save its puppets and the same would happen in Pakistan. He said the people would have to decide whether they accepted slavery of Allah and His Prophet (PBUH) or that of the US like our rulers.
Referring to the incident of killing of three people by US national in Lahore, he warned the rulers against setting culprit Raymond Davis free without judicial trial. He said the people would take the law into their hands if rulers adopted any illegal course to free the US diplomat. He counselled Governor Latif Khosa to visit jail to meet Mumtaz Qadri.
Salmaan Taseer met Asia Bibi in the jail. Khosa should visit the jail to meet Mumtaz Qadri, he said, adding, Khosa was in the Governor House only due to Mumtaz Qadri.
Ameer Jamaat-e-Islami Syed Munawar Hasan said the movement for protecting Namoos-e-Risalat and free the country from US slavery would be further reinforced and taken to its logical ending. He said the Muslim World was facing a wave of revolution and the Pakistani rulers could not escape this for a longer period. He said the world had changed after 9/11 and all should realise this reality.
The US is implementing its agenda in the wake of change after 9/11. She wants to damage Islamic values and culture, change law and revise syllabus in Islamic countries and snub voices from mosques, he stated, adding that the Muslims should realise and stand to fight the war of civilisations. He said that the US and western countries were hatching conspiracies to take the Muslims away from their religion.
The JI Ameer further said the nation accepted the challenge against the US and her agents.
Warning the present rulers of dire consequences, he said that they (rulers) and the assemblies would cease to exist if attempts were made to amend the blasphemy law.
He said it was only due to the cowardice of the rulers that the Americans were killing innocent Pakistanis on streets. He said there had been terrorist activities in the Punjab capital in the past when vehicles carrying arms were recovered from the Americans but they were later released. It was for the President, the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister to explain the whereabouts of those Americans, he added.
Convener TNRM Sahibzada Abual Khair Zubair said the rulers were not fulfilling demands and trying to keep people away from the movement by creating confusions. He urged the political parties having representation in the parliament to take up the issue at the highest platform. He congratulated the participants for fulfilling their commitment to protect Namoos-e-Risalat.
Ameer Jamaat-ud-Dawa Hafiz Muhammad Saeed urged the rulers to work for an international legislation to curb desecration of Prophets all over the world. He said the rulers who had taken oath on the Holy Quran should decide to sever diplomatic relations with the countries where blasphemous caricatures had been published. He said Pope Benedicts demand for repealing the blasphemy laws was aimed at fanning lawlessness and anarchy in the country.
JUI leader Abdul Ghafoor Haidri said the rulers were paying no heed to the protests by the nation for the last couple of months. He said the TNRM earlier made four demands - dissolution of committee headed by Shahbaz Bhatti, withdrawal of bill submitted by Sherry Rehman, action against Salmaan Taseer for violating his oath and uttering against the law of land and statement of Prime Minister on the floor of the National Assembly that blasphemy law would not be amended. He said delay on the part of the government led to the killing of Salmaan Taseer. He urged the rulers to fulfil demands to avert any future eventuality.
Allama Sajid Naqvi said the government was not taking clear stance on blasphemy law only due to the US pressure. He stressed upon continuing the struggle to protect blasphemy law. He said no one could be allowed to commit blasphemy.
Abdul Qadir Ropri urged the rulers to withdraw the bill presented by Sherry Rehman to stop another Mumtaz Qadri from coming into action. He said efforts would be made for freeing Mumtaz Qadri.
Ashraf Jalali said the nation had decided to punish blasphemers. He said Mumtaz Qadri had fulfilled his commitment for Hurmat-e-Rasool by killing Salmaan Taseer and he should be freed.
Addressing the rally, Senator Sajid Mir said the nation had recorded a strong protest against attacks on blasphemy law. He said the blasphemer deserved only one punishment and that was death. He said people from all schools of thought had consensus on blasphemy law.
Vowing to protect Namoos-e-Risalat, central leader PML-Q Ch Pervaiz Elahi said his party would be the first to quit the assembly if it dared to make any attempt to amend the blasphemy law.
We have not adopted double standards like the rulers and our children and assets are of no values before Namoos-e-Risalat. Overwhelming participation in todays rally proves that the nation is united to protect Namoos-e-Risalat. No amendment in blasphemy law is acceptable as Muslims value Namoos-e-Risalat more than their lives, children and assets, he said, adding that his party would leave no stone unturned to protect the blasphemy law inside and outside the parliament.
Ilyas Ghuman termed Javaid Ghamdi an accursed and outcast but no speaker responded to his remarks.
PML-Zia Chief Ejazul Haq said a long march should be launched after giving a deadline to the government.
PML-N leader Kh Saad Rafiq said the PML-N had clear stance on blasphemy law.
Blasphemy law should not be amended. Efforts should also be made to stop wrong use of blasphemy law, he said.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Vice-President Ijaz Chaudhry pledged that his party would not allow any change in the law. He demanded public hanging of Raymond Davis, the US citizen who shot dead three Pakistanis on Thursday.