Islamabad: Seeking to combat growing sectarian violence, Pakistan today said it plans to bring a legislation to ban declaring Muslims of other sects as ‘kafirs’ or infidels.
In a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the country’s top civil-military leadership also approved a nationwide crackdown against financiers of sectarian violence that has claimed many lives in the past.
Sources privy to the meeting said the new legislation to ban ‘Takfir’ or declaring Muslims of other sects as ‘kafirs’ was discussed during the meeting held to review the progress of National Action Plan (NAP) – the country’s 20-point counterterrorism strategy adopted earlier this year to eliminate extremism and militancy.
The meeting was attended by army chief General Raheel Sharif, federal ministers, provincial representatives and other high-level military and civilian officials.
“There will be no tolerance for calling each other infidel or liable to be killed,” interior minister Nisar Ali Khan said while briefing the reporters after the meeting.
“We will take strict action against those involve in sectarianism. We will not let anyone designate or declare other as kafirs.
“There is a very thin line between sectarianism and terrorism. They both go hand-in-hand,” he said.
The minister added: “It was unanimously decided during today’s meeting of the country’s top civil-military leadership that elements challenging the writ of the state would be eliminated.”
‘Takfir’ is common practice as various Muslim groups openly term followers of other sects as ‘kafirs’. It is often used by hardline Sunni groups like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi against Shia Muslims who have been repeatedly targeted in Pakistan.
Since 1989, over 5,000 civilians have lost their lives in sectarian attacks in Pakistan, according to reports. After the formation of NAP, terrorism-related instability dwindled but incidents related to sectarian violence have surged.
“The purpose of the new law is to ban sectarianism and come down hard on financiers of sectarian violence in the country,” The Express Tribune reported, quoting an official monitoring progress on the NAP.
Khan said that a cyber-crime bill would soon be presented in the parliament for legislation against misuse of internet and cyber space.