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No plans to amend blasphemy law, says Gilani

Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Monday said his government will not amend the blasphemy law, which has been at the centre of a raging controversy since the assassination of Governor Salmaan Taseer over his opposition to the statute.

world Updated: Jan 17, 2011 19:57 IST

Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Monday said his government will not amend the blasphemy law, which has been at the centre of a raging controversy since the assassination of Governor Salmaan Taseer over his opposition to the statute.

"Neither have we thought of it nor are we going to do it," Gilani said while addressing a gathering after inaugurating the campuses of two universities at Dera Ghazi Khan.

Those who were saying a committee had been formed by the government to amend the blasphemy law were wrong, he said.

"No such committee was formed. However, a committee was formed by the Pakistan People's Party to discuss proposed legislations moved by lawmakers and this committee had rejected the amendment of the blasphemy law," he said.

Gilani said: "I cannot think of amendment in the blasphemy law."

However, he said the government believes that no law should be misused.

Punjab Governor Taseer, a leader of the ruling PPP and a confidant of President Asif Ali Zardari, was gunned in Islamabad on January 4 by a police guard who said he was angered by the politician's criticism of the blasphemy law.

Pakistani liberals, rights activists and minority community leaders have demanded the repeal or amendment of the law in the wake of the murder.

However, religious hardliners and extremist groups like the Jamaat-ud-Dawah have rallied in support of the law and Taseer's assassin and warned the government not to change the law.

Gilani said persons "airing rumours about an amendment in the blasphemy law were merely wasting their time" and should instead come together to strengthen institutions and the rule of law and to help overcome challenges confronting Pakistan, including unemployment, terrorism, extremism, sectarianism.

The PPP-led government has buried the "politics of vengeance" and laid the foundation for "politics of reconciliation", he said.

"However, those who think the politics of reconciliation is some sort of weakness are wrong," he said.