ISLAMABAD: Lawmakers belonging to Pakistan’s minority Hindu community walked out of the Parliament to protest against the remarks of Lahore’s High Court Chief Justice that the Hindus might be financing terrorist attacks in Pakistan.
Ramesh Lal, a lawmaker from the ruling Pakistan People’s Party, raised the issue in the National Assembly, saying that the sentiments of an estimated four million Pakistani Hindus were hurt by Lahore High Court Chief Justice Khwaja Muhammad Sharif’s uncalled remarks.
While hearing a petition on barring the deportation of Afghan Taliban leaders, Mr Justice Sharif rebutted the arguments by a lawyer that US security firm Blackwater and Hindus were involved in terrorist attacks and remarked that “Muslims and not Hindus are involved in terror acts in Pakistan.”
He had contended that Hindus “might be the financiers” of such attacks.
Shri Lal said if a country is suspected of sponsoring such attacks it should be named but blame should not be put on the Pakistani Hindus who are as patriotic as other Pakistanis.
He drew the attention of President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Mr Yousuf Raza Gilani to the worry caused to the Hindus by the judge’s remarks and appealed to the Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry to take suo moto notice of the matter.
Some ministers and lawmakers sought to assuage the feelings of Shri Lal but he was not satisfied and walked out of the House. Shri Lal was joined by other Hindu lawmakers and members of the Awami National Party in the walkout, described as the first protest in the Parliament against the judiciary.
The protesters were later persuaded to return to the House. Some lawmakers said judges should focus on delivering justice rather than speaking on such sensitive issues. PPP chief whip and labour minister Khurshid Ahmed Shah described the judge’s remarks as an apparent “slip of the tongue”. He said the judge had seemingly blamed India for financing the Taliban rather than Hindus and added he was sure a clarification would be issued soon. Shri Rashid Akbar Niwani of the PML-N said judges should devote themselves to dispensing justice instead of seeking publicity. He said the judges should speak “through their judgements and not otherwise”.
PPP lawmaker Shri Munawar Talpur apologised to the Pakistani Hindu community, saying they were “as good Pakistanis as anyone else”. He said the judge’s statement against Hindus is condemnable and should not be defended as it seemed to have been made deliberately.