LAHORE - He thinks differently. His simple life style and mannerism makes him different from rest of his colleagues in the House. He is known for giving frank advice to the members irrespective of party affiliation.

His name is Muhammad Rafique but his straightforwardness has earned him the title of ‘Chacha Rafique’. Many in the Assembly would address him with this name.

Rafique is not liked by his colleagues in the PML-N, solely because he calls a spade a spade. Even the Speaker would not take him seriously if he wants to speak on a point of order. Sometimes, out of pity, he is given a few minutes to speak his mind. 

A lone voice in the Assembly, he looks at things differently.

He has his own opinion on political issues. On Tuesday, when the entire House was up against the blasphemers, and rightly so, Chacha Rafique also raised his voice in condemnation of those spreading blasphemous material on the social media. “Mr Speaker, I also support the resolution and share the same sentiments against the blasphemers as expressed by the honorable members. Those committing blasphemy against the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) deserve no mercy. But let me speak on the issue from a different perspective”, he observed. 

Chacha started off his speech citing contents from a research report prepared by the religious scholars of world renowned Jamia Al-Azhar of Egypt.

He told the House that the religious scholars from this university visited some European countries and the Muslim states to have first-hand knowledge of how Islam was being practiced in different regions of the world.

“We went to US, UK, France, Germany and other European countries and saw Islam in its true spirit. But we did not see any Muslims there. Then we visited the Muslim countries. We did not see Islam being practiced in these countries. But we did meet a lot of Muslims there”, Rafique quoted from Al-Azhar’s report.  Then he went on to state: “Mr. Speaker! We [Muslims] talk a lot about the sanctity of the Holy Prophet (Peace be Upon Him) but forget about His message. We are an emotional people. We also tend to ignore the last sermon of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) (Khutba Hajjatul Wida). The Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) had brought about a revolution, a revolution of peace, but don’t follow His (PBUH) teachings”. 

Chacha was in the middle of his speech when Deputy Speaker Sardar Sher Ali Gorchani asked him to wind up his thoughts. He concluded his talk with a quote from the poetry of noted Urdu poet Maulana Altaf Hussain Hali.

“Dard-e-Dil k wastay paida kia insaan ko: warna ebaadat k liay kum nan they karro bayan.” (The God Almighty created Man for the sake of ending the agonies of his fellow beings. Otherwise, the God had no dearth of angles for his worship). Though he would not say in so many words, but the PML-N lawmaker was, infact, trying to shake the conscious of most of his colleagues, if not all of them, who are always ready to sacrifice their lives for the honour of Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him), but would not act upon His teachings in true spirit.

In the speeches made afterwards, no member appreciated Chacha Rafique for his words.  It was for the understandable reason because he had indirectly tried to point out a contradiction in their words about the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and their acts which hardly matched with His (PBUH) teachings.  Hailing from a remote district of Toba Tek Singh, Chacha has a fine taste of humour and poetry which makes him unique in the Punjab Assembly.

In his mid-seventies, Rafique is a great fan of Mirza Ghalib and would adorn his speeches with quotes from his poetry quite often.   But he is a seasoned Parliamentarian too.

Rafique returned to the Punjab Assembly for the third time in 2013 elections starting his political career as member of the District Council in early 1980s.  Sometimes, he makes sarcastic comments, and, at time, he would express his opinion without mincing words.  The other day, he spoke about the crimes of moral turpitude of his party’s MNA from Toba Tek Singh, Asadur Rehman.

The Speaker had to expunge his remarks from the Assembly proceedings.