Islamabad: The Pakistan government today disassociated itself from a federal minister’s offer of a $100,000 bounty for the maker of an anti-Islam video that sparked worldwide protests, saying it had nothing to do with the move.
“We disassociate ourselves from the minister’s remarks,” a government spokesman said in a brief message sent to journalists, referring to the reward offered yesterday by Railway Minister Ghulam Ahmed Bilour.
The office of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf too distanced itself from the minister’s action, saying the government had nothing to do with Bilour’s statement.
A spokesman for the premier’s office said Bilour is a leader of the Awami National Party and the premier would take up the issue with ANP chief Asfandyar Wali Khan. The spokesman did not rule out action against the Railway
Minister but said the ruling Pakistan People’s Party and the ANP would continue working together as usual. ANP spokesman Zahid Khan described Bilour’s offer of a bounty as a personal act that did not reflect the party’s position. “We believe in non-violence and have always talked of peace and stability,” he said.
Khan said the ANP would seek an “explanation” from Bilour about his actions.
Bilour repeated his offer of the bounty during an appearance on a TV news channel late last night. He had
initially offered the reward while addressing a news conference in the northwestern city of Peshawar yesterday.
He said he was unwilling to accept acts of blasphemy and the US and the European Union should frame laws to prevent acts such as the making of the anti-Islam film.
He further said he had offered the reward on his own and not as a representative of the Pakistan government. While addressing the news conference yesterday, Bilour had called on members of the banned Taliban and Al Qaeda to support his call for the killing of the film’s maker.
He even said members of these organisations would be rewarded if they killed the film’s maker.
Bilour’s announcement caused consternation in political circles as he belongs to the secular ANP, whose workers and leaders have been the target of vicious attacks by the Taliban. Scores of ANP workers have died in these attacks.
The ANP rules the northwestern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province and is part of the ruling coalition at the centre. The minister’s remarks came a day after violent protests across Pakistan resulted in 23 deaths and destruction of property worth billions of rupees.