ISLAMABAD .Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal has said only the state has the authority to declare a people non-Muslim or announce Jihad or holy war against someone, as individuals and groups cannot be allowed to issue such verdicts.
“Only the state has the authority to declare anyone Muslim or non-Muslim. In the past, Qadianis [Ahmadis] were declared non-Muslim through parliament and the Constitution,” Iqbal said on Friday in a press conference also attended by Law Minister Zahid Hamid and Adviser to PM Barrister Zafarullah.
The minister said issuing religious edicts in the street would only create anarchy. “And then we will not need terrorists to create chaos in society. Only the state can determine punishment or pardon any person, and nobody else can do it.”
Talking with reference to the controversial change in the oath of election candidates that whipped up a storm in the country, Iqbal said the controversial part of the form had now been changed and the older version of the form revived.
“Now the nomination form has been restored so that nobody could even create a doubt about the religious beliefs of others,” he said.
He said “all of us are Muslims” and “Khatm-e-Nabbowat [the belief that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is God’s last prophet]is an article of our faith”. No government, he added, could think of taking any step contrary to Islam.
“It is unfortunate that some groups on social media tried to spread hate, provoke religious sentiments to get political mileage and create controversy about the nomination form for elections,” he said.
The minister said he gave policy statement on the floor of the National Assembly that the people who were trying to create hate and misunderstanding should be countered.
He said religious scholars should play their role so that sanity should prevail in society. “Nobody has a monopoly on love for Allah and Prophet Muhammad (pbuh),” he added
Iqbal said it was the vision of the Quaid-e-Azam that every Pakistani should live without fear and according to his or her religious beliefs. “Diversity of Pakistan is its strength and it has made Pakistani society beautiful. Allah has to decide who will go to Paradise and who will go to Hell,” he added.
The election form
Clarifying the government’s stand point on the election form, Iqbal said the new election law was enacted with consensus of all major parties in parliament.
“Three years back the process for electoral reforms was started in parliament and the parliamentary committee comprising members of all political parties participated in the legislation process,” he said. “The legislation went through a sub-committee and then the main committee. Afterwards, the report was laid before the house after seeking suggestions from the public.”
He said for the first time, a JUI-F Senator, Hafiz Hamdullah, raised the point that the original nomination form should be restored and the PML-N government supported his suggestion. “However, members of other parties in the Senate did not approve amendment in the nomination form then,” he added.