ISLAMABAD - The National Assembly on Thursday unanimously passed a resolution strongly condemning reprinting of the sacrilegious caricatures of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) by French magazine Charlie Hebdo and its reproduction in other Western newspapers and magazines.

“The House calls on the international community particularly the member states of European Union, the OIC and the UN to take decisive step to stop such practice,’’ read the resolution passed by lawmakers after making speeches against the blasphemous caricature.

The resolution moved by Railways Minister Saad Rafique reads, “This House genuinely believes that freedom of expression should not be misused as means to attack or hurt public sentiments and religious beliefs and in this regard Article 20 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights must be followed by all states.

“The House is of a firm opinion that such malicious attacks on the sanctity of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and all other messengers of Allah amount to hate speech. These are deliberate attempts to incite violence, create discord, widen misunderstanding among civilizations and thereby provide opportunities to the terrorist elements to capitalise on public sentiments,” says the resolution.

“However, the house strongly condemns all kinds of violence under whatever pretext... Islam is a faith of peace and tolerance. Nobody should be allowed to distract this universal and all-pervading message and spirit of Islam,” it added.

Initiating the debate against blasphemous caricatures, Opposition Leader Syed Khursheed Shah strongly condemned the reprinting of the sacrilegious caricatures. “It badly hurts the sentiments of Muslims. Freedom of expression should not be confused with playing with emotions of Muslims,” he maintained.

Minister for Religious Affairs Sardar Yousaf said that they would raise this matter at Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) as the matter has hurt emotions of Muslim all over the world.

However, an independent lawmaker from southern Punjab, Jamshed Dasti in an emotional way said that the criminals involved in this heinous activity should be killed. “There is a need of making Muslim force which wage war against those who made these caricatures... They should be killed to teach a lesson so that nobody dare make this offence,” he said.

Other lawmakers from Jamaat-e-Islami, MQM, PPP and other parties also strongly condemned the blasphemous caricatures and termed it conspiracy against Muslims. Later, the lawmakers, journalists and staff of parliament also marched outside the parliament and chanted slogans against the blasphemous sketches.

At the outset of proceedings, MQM legislators strongly registered their protest against the killing of MQM workers. “The PM and the interior minister should take notice of the killing of MQM workers,” said Abdul Waseem, before staging walkout from the House.

Fata lawmakers for the sixth consecutive day staged walkout for not properly addressing their reservations. “The PM should at least listen to our reservations as we are constantly being ignored,” said Shah Jee Gul Afridi, before leaving the House in protest.

The deputy speaker, at the start of the proceedings, informed the House that PTI lawmakers were not attending the House for the last 40 working days of the National Assembly. He said that PTI MNAs Imran Khattak, Ali Muhammad Khan, Sheharyar Afridi, Khayal Zaman Orakzai, Azhar Jadoon, Dawar Kundi, Murad Saeed, Qaiser Jamal, Asad Umar, Ghulam Sarwar Khan, Nafeesa Inayatullah, Sajida Begum and Lal Chand were absent from the House without leave of the Assembly for 40 consecutive days with effect from August 12 last year.

Earlier, the government had to defer resolution regarding Gas Infrastructure Development Cess Ordinance, 2014 due to immense pressure from the opposition parties. They said that it should be referred to the Council of Common Interests (CCI). “It should not be approved without the consent of all the provinces,” said opposition lawmakers. The resolution was for extending the ordinance for a further period of 120 days.

Online adds: The National Assembly was also informed when it resumed its session on Thursday that the government had planned a housing scheme under which 500,000 low-cost units would be provided to homeless people in the country.

Parliamentary Secretary for Housing and Works Syed Sajid Mehdi told the house during the question hour that each housing unit would cost Rs one million. He said 100 percent loan facility would be available at the interest rate of one percent to be paid by the owner of the house while the remaining six percent would be paid by the government itself.

He said each unit having 415 square feet and well equipped with all the facilities would be allotted to the general public, adding they would build the house by themselves.

Syed Sajid Mehdi said Balochistan had provided free-of-cost land for the project while the Punjab would charge 50 percent price of the land while negotiations were underway with Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in this regard.

NAWAZ CONDEMNS PUBLICATION OF BLASPHEMOUS CARTOONS

Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif has strongly condemned the publication of blasphemous caricatures in a French journal.

He said that freedom of speech should not be used to hurt the religious sentiments of any community.

The Prime Minister said that the publication of provocative material should be discouraged by the international community.