Pak Islamist parties warn govt against amending blasphemy law

Addressing some 40,000 protestors at Mall Road, one of Lahore’s main thoroughfares, Saeed said: "It is not only Afghanistan but Kashmir and Palestine will also get freedom soon."

Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief Saeed, who is linked to the banned terror group LeT, said decisions were now being made in the mountains of Afghanistan and not Washington, and the US would soon have to quit the war-torn country.

Calling for the framing of an international law on blasphemy, he said the whole of Pakistan has united to protect it and any attempt to amend the law would be considered "blasphemy".

"We are ready to sacrifice our lives for the Prophet," he said.This was the second major show of strength by the Tehrik Tahaffuz-e-Namoos-e-Risalat, an alliance of Islamist groups opposed to any move to amend or repeal the blasphemy law.

The grouping had earlier organized a rally in the southern port city of Karachi on January 9 that was attended by nearly 50,000 people.The rally, which started at Naseer Bagh this afternoon, swelled to a gathering of about 40,000 by the time it reached the Mall Road.

The religious and hardline groups were backed by two leading political parties, the PML-N and PML-Q.

Former Punjab Chief Minister and senior PML-Q leader Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi and PML-N leader and parliamentarian Khwaja Saad Rafique rubbed shoulders with hardliners like Saeed at the rally.

In his address, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman announced that another rally would be held in Peshawar on February 20 to keep up the pressure on the government not to amend the blasphemy law.

He said protests would continue every Friday in cities across the country.
The protestors carried flags of various parties and groups, including the JuD that his linked to the banned terror group LeT.

The charged activists shouted slogans against the US and the West and demanded the release of Mumtaz Qadri, the police guard who assassinated former Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer for opposing the blasphemy law.
Leaders of some groups became upset when they were told that the rally would not be covered live by TV news channels.
Maulana Fazlur warned the media that the religious parties would launch protests if all such rallies and public meetings were not properly covered

The participation of a Pakistani Shia party, Tehrik-e-Milat-e- Jaffria, was a unique feature of today’s rally.

However, when its leader Sajid Naqvi joined the rally with his supporters, members of the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba began shouting slogans like "Kafir Kafir Shia Kafir (Shias are infidels)".

Later, Sipah-e-Sahaba leaders asked the workers to respect their "guests".Maulana Fazlur also said the assasinated Governor had made a mistake by meeting Asia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death for alleged blasphemy, and calling for clemency for her.

"I advise Punjab Governor Latif Khosa to meet Mumtaz Qadri and thank him because he gets this position because of him (Qadri)," Maulana Fazlur said.

He directed much of his ire at the US for its "anti-Muslim polices". He warned the government that there would be "anarchy" if it released the US national arrested in Lahore last week for shooting and killing two alleged robbers.

Jamaat-e-Islami chief Syed Munawwar Hasan alleged the government is trying to save the "American terrorist" instead of doing justice to the families of those he killed.
He said the interior and foreign ministries were competing for the favours of "their foreign masters".

Markazi Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith leader Sajid Mir demanded severe punishment for the US national and a probe to ascertain he was carrying weapons.He called it the first "drone attack" in Punjab province and said such incidents "gave birth to suicide bombers".
Several speakers said Shariah or Islamic law will be implemented in Pakistan and the people will not accept the "agenda of the West". 

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