Religio-political parties give one-month ultimatum
By Rahimullah Yusufzai - The News: Jang 2-2-2001
PESHAWAR: The religio-political parties and trade organisations which have been spearheading an agitation against the publication of a blasphemous letter in daily The Frontier Post, suspended their campaign for a month on Thursday to allow the government and the courts to punish the responsible for the sacrilege.
Representatives of Jamaat-e-Islami, the two JUI factions led by Maulana Fazlur Rahman and Maulana Samiul Haq, Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan, Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, Jamiat Ittehadul Ulema, Jamiat Ahle Hadith, Idara Tabligh Islam, Tanzim-e-Islami, Majlis-e-Tahaffuz Khatm-e-Nabuwat, Amn Committee, and various traders organisations met in the historic Qasim Ali Khan Mosque here under the presidentship of Syed Amir Shah Qadri and decided to suspend their campaign for a month.
Briefing reporters after the meeting, Qadri said: "If the culprits are not severely punished in a month's time we would then decide the matter on our own. Those who committed blasphemy ought to be awarded exemplary punishment to prevent recurrence of such incidents." He demanded arrest of the real culprits and release of the innocent.
In a related development, police raided the Peshawar office of Urdu daily Jasarat for allegedly publishing a partial translation of the blasphemous letter which first appeared in English daily The Frontier Post on January 29. The raiding party, which included personnel of the Crimes branch, found the Jasarat office locked and its correspondent Rasheed Siddiqui missing. The office, said a police official, had been sealed.
Earlier, a meeting of the lawyers decided that no member of the bar would appear on behalf of the accused when the blasphemy case is brought to the court. Several lawyers who spoke on the occasion warned that Muslims would not tolerate publication of such blasphemous matter under the guise of freedom of the press.
Police sources said they had obtained another six days of physical remand from the court of the five accused since January 29. They include The Frontier Post News Editor Aftab Ahmad, Chief Reporter Imtiaz Hussain, Feature Writer Kazi Ghulam Sarwar, Sub-editor Munawar Mohsin and computer section incharge Wajeehul Hasan. A case under sections 295 A, B, C/505 Pakistan Penal Code (PPC)/19 Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) has been registered against them and two others, including the daily's Managing Editor Mahmood Afridi and Joint Editor Syed Jawed Nazir, in the West Cantonment Police Station.
Mahmood Afridi and Jawed Nazir have not been arrested yet. Sources said the five detained men have now been separated as it was now being realised that only Aftab Ahmad and Munawar Mohsin bear responsibility for publication of the blasphemous letter. Two other detained employees of the paper, technician Shahid Afridi and chowkidar Mira Khan, have not been charged under the blasphemy law. The seven staffers of Urdu daily Maidan, a sister publication of The Frontier Post, who were detained for investigations, have now been freed.
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