Pakistani Parliamentarians were left stunned when a lawmaker led a prayer for slain al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in the National Assembly despite being told by Deputy Speaker Faisal Karim Kundi not to do so.
Maulvi Asmatullah, an independent candidate from Zbob in Balochistan province, stood up in the lower house of Parliament yesterday and said lawmakers should pray for bin
Laden, who was killed by United States commandos in a unilateral raid on his hideout in Abbottabad on May 2.
Two lawmakers from the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province -- former federal minister Attaur Rehman, the younger brother of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman; and Laiq Muhammad Khan -- as well as Minister of State for Health Shahjehan Yousaf of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid and Pakistan people's Party Parliamentarian Sher Muhammad Baloch participated in the 'fateha' prayer that lasted about a minute.
Deputy Speaker Kundi, who was administering the proceedings, could not convince the lawmakers to stick to the rules of business. "What you are doing? I did not give you permission," Kundi said.
Before offering the prayer for bin laden, Asmatullah said, "The Americans claim they allowed the last rites for Osama bin Laden to be performed according to Islamic values. So it is proper for us to pray for bin Laden also."
The scene stunned most lawmakers who were in the House and members of the treasury benches looked on helplessly, media reports said on Wednesday. Asmatullah broke away from the JUI party last year and formed his own party, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Nazriati.
Asmatullah's party had organised the first major protest in Quetta after the killing of bin Laden.
Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has said in Parliament that the elimination of bin Laden was "justice done" though Pakistan would retaliate with "full force" if the US or any other country tried to conduct a raid similar to the one that killed the al-Qaeda leader.
In a separate development in Balochistan province, five ministers from the ruling PPP have demanded the immediate expulsion of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam from the provincial Cabinet for promoting terrorism by supporting the Taliban.
PPP Minister Mir Sadiq Umrani raised the matter in the Provincial Assembly on Tuesday and walked out of the House after accusing the JUI of being involved in terrorism. Umrani was joined by four other PPP ministers.