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Pak minorities demand termination of blasphemy laws

world Updated: Jun 25, 2007 19:00 IST

PTI
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A Pakistani minorities' body has sought legislative reforms to strike off the blasphemy laws that "discriminate against minorities" in the country.

Demanding a ban on the radical clerics and students of Jamia Hafsa madrassa involved in Islamabad in a stand-off with the government over the enforcement of Sharia laws, the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA) said it would challenge laws discriminating against minorities, particularly the blasphemy laws and the Hudood Ordinance and seek legislative reforms through the parliament.

"Minorities and our daughters are worried as terrorist elements are frightening them," APMA Chairman Shahbaz Bhatti said, adding minorities in Pakistan were considered untouchables.

He said extremist elements had challenged the government's writ and the government seemed to be helpless.

Addressing a minorities convention, Bhatti said the country was in the grip of religious extremism and Talibanisation was being thrust upon the nation.

He urged the government to celebrate minority festivals at the national level.

Over 1,500 Christian, Sikh, Hindu, Balmik, Kalash and Bihai minorities, including women and children, attended the convention, the Daily Times said.

The APMA said over 20 million voters were missing from the voter lists, out of which 25 percent were minorities.

APMA's North West Frontier Province president Javed, Hindu delegate Om Parkash, Sikh delegate Ram Singh, lawmakers from Punjab including Chaudhry Naveed Ahmed Jeewa, Parvez Rafiq, Khalid Gill and former Sindh Assembly member Michael Javed also spoke on the occasion, the daily said.