All Parties Khatam-e-Naboowat Conference: Govt should insert religion column in new passports
By Mohammad Imran
ISLAMABAD: The government should insert the religion column in the new computerised passports, the All Parties Khatam-e-Naboowat Conference demanded on Saturday. The religious body also urged clerics to condemn the government during Friday sermons on December 24.
Differences between Qazi Hussain Ahmed, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) chief and Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the opposition leader in the National Assembly, was seen during the conference. Qazi was off the view that the passport issue must be included in the current protest campaign against the president while Fazl insisted that the issue was unrelated and should not be included in the protests.
The conference unanimously condemned the government for not inserting the religion column in the new passport. It demanded the government insert the column and rejected the government’s proposal of a stamp mentioning religion on the passport. The resolution also urged clerics of the country to unearth the “conspiracy against the Muslim community” during Friday sermons.
“The present government wants to change Pakistan’s Islamic ideology and wants to turn the Islamic Republic of Pakistan into a secular state and that is why it did not insert the religion column in the machine readable passport,” the resolution added. It stated that the National Assembly had declared Ahmedis non-Muslim and the government had not inserted the religion column in the passport because it wanted to bring Ahmedis into Muslim ranks.
Representatives of several religious parties of the country and Azad Jammu and Kashmir participated in the conference. Iqbal Jhagra, the secretary general of the Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy (ARD), was also present.
Addressing the conference, Fazl said President Pervez Musharraf was representing the western world. “The president is using the army to implement western agenda and turn the country into a secular state,” he added.
He said President Musharraf had amended the blasphemy and Hudood laws and also changed the curricula to secularise education. Rejecting the government’s argument of that no country in the world, including Saudi Arabia, had the religion column in the passport, he said there were no minorities in Saudi Arabia and non-Muslims had to fill a form containing the religion column.
He said the column’s presence in the passport was necessary to stop Ahmedis from entering Ka’aba.
Qazi said President Musharraf was representing the world’s secular forces. He also said the president was responsible for all secular policies of the government and urged the conference’s participants to join the protest against President Musharraf.