Pakistan expresses hope for peaceful Afghan elections

Shah Mahmood Qureshi spoke to his Afghan counterpart Salahuddin Rabbani over the phone on Friday. (Photo courtesy: Foreign Office)
Updated 20 October 2018

Pakistan expresses hope for peaceful Afghan elections

  • Qureshi reassured Pakistan’s complete support for the Afghan democratic process
  • Afghanistan is holding election for the lower house of parliament, on Saturday

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said he hopes parliamentary elections will be held in a peaceful environment throughout Afghanistan.
Shah Mahmood Qureshi spoke to his Afghan counterpart Salahuddin Rabbani over the phone on Friday.
Pakistan’s foreign minister told Rabbani “these elections are an important landmark for the strengthening of democracy in the country, which remains the key to achieving sustainable peace and progress in Afghanistan,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement issued on Friday evening.
Qureshi also reassured Rabbani about Pakistan’s complete support for the Afghan democratic process.
Afghanistan is holding an election for the lower house of parliament, known as the Wolesi Jirga under tight security.
“Thanking the Foreign Minister for his support, FM Rabbani briefed Mr. Qureshi about the difficulties being faced by the Afghan government in holding the upcoming elections in Afghanistan in a successful manner,” Pakistan’s Foreign Office statement said, quoting Rabbani.
The statement added: “Mr. Rabbani also expressed the hope that both countries would continue to work together in pursuing peace and an end to the decades-old conflict in Afghanistan.”
Early on Friday Pakistan, on the request of the Kabul government, closed the gates along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border for two days.
The decision to shut down the crossings along the Chaman and Torkham border was taken to help Kabul conduct its parliamentary elections seamlessly.


Blasphemy accusation in Pakistan sparks ransacking of Hindu temple, school

Updated 16 September 2019

Blasphemy accusation in Pakistan sparks ransacking of Hindu temple, school

  • The violence erupted in the southern province of Sindh after a student accused the Hindu principal of blasphemy

KARACHI/ISLAMABAD: A crowd in Pakistan ransacked a school and Hindu temple after a Hindu principal was accused of blasphemy, police said on Monday, the latest case to raise concern about the fate of religious minorities in the predominantly Muslim country.
The violence erupted in the southern province of Sindh after a student accused the Hindu principal of blasphemy in comments about the Muslim Prophet Muhammad. The enraged crowd ransacked the school and damaged a nearby temple, a district police chief said.
The principal had been taken into protective custody and police were investigating both the alleged blasphemy and the rioters, he added.
“It seems the principal had not done anything intentionally,” the district police chief, Furrukh Ali, told Reuters.
Insulting Islam’s Prophet Muhammad carries a mandatory death penalty in Pakistan, which is about 95 percent Muslim and has among the harshest blasphemy laws in the world.
No executions for blasphemy have been carried out in Pakistan but enraged mobs sometimes kill people accused of it.
Rights groups say the blasphemy law is often exploited by religious hard-liners as well as ordinary Pakistanis to settle scores.
The independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan condemned the weekend violence, footage of which was recorded in a video and circulated on social media. It called on authorities should take prompt action.
“The video ... is chilling: mob violence against a member of a religious minority is barbaric, unacceptable,” the commission said in a post on Twitter.
Hindus make up about 1.6 percent of Pakistan’s population of 208 million, the majority of whom are Sunni Muslims.
In January, the Supreme Court upheld the acquittal of a Christian women who spent years on death row after being convicted of blasphemy in a case that had drawn alarm from religious and human rights advocates.
In March, Pakistan’s government sacked a provincial minister for making offensive comments about Hindus as tension between Pakistan and Hindu-majority neighbor India ran high after a militant attack in the Indian-controlled portion of the contested Kashmir region.