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Pak distances itself from bounty on anti-Islam filmmaker

September 24, 2012 12:56 IST
The Pakistan government on Monday made it clear that one of its minister's offer of a bounty of $100,000 for the maker of an anti-Islam film did not represent official policy but did not say whether any action would be taken against him.

Foreign Office spokesman Moazzam Khan said Railway Minister Ghulam Ahmed Bilour's announcement of a bounty for the maker of the offensive anti-Islam film "was representative of Bilour's personal views and had nothing to do with the official policy of the government of Pakistan".

Bilour's statement did not represent official policy, Khan said in a brief statement.

The statement did not say whether any action would be taken against Bilour, who had called on Taliban and Al Qaeda to help in the "noble cause" of killing the film's maker.

The minister, who belongs to the secular Awami National Party, triggered a storm on Saturday by announcing the bounty during a news conference in the northwestern city of Peshawar. He repeated his offer while speaking on a TV news channeland did not change his position despite criticism from other leaders of his own party.

The government has been at pains to distance itself from Bilour's remarks, which have made the headlines in the United States at a time when President Asif Ali Zardari is visiting New York to attend the UN General Assembly session.

Talking to reporters on Sunday night, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said Bilour's comments were an "expression of his own personal feelings and the government has nothing to do with it".

While addressing the media in Peshawar on Saturday, Bilour said, "I announce today that this blasphemer, this sinner who has spoken nonsense about the holy Prophet -- anyone who murders him, I will reward him with 100,000 dollars."

"I invite our Taliban and Al Qaeda brothers to take part in this noble cause. I will give 100,000 dollars to whoever succeeds. If he is handed over to me, I am willing to kill him with my own hands even if they hang me for it later on," the minister said.

Though a government spokesman has said that Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf intends to discuss the matter with ANP chief Asfandyar Wali Khan, no act is likely to be taken against Bilour as he does not belong to the ruling Pakistan People's Party, sources said.

Besides, the sources said, the PPP is keen to retain the ANP's support for the upcoming general election. Bilour belongs to an influential business family and is a top leader of the ANP.




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