More religious parties to protest against Bibi's acquittal

Supporters of the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) block a street during a protest following the Supreme Court decision to acquit Christian woman Asia Bibi, in Peshawar on Nov. 1, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 01 November 2018

More religious parties to protest against Bibi's acquittal

  • Alliance of top organizations announces nationwide strike on Friday
  • Experts say PM Khan’s “unnecessary speech” boosted groups to play active role

KARACHI: Just a day earlier on Wednesday, Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) was the only party whose supporters were protesting all over Pakistan against the apex court’s decision to acquit a Christian woman on death row.
On Thursday, that number grew to hundreds after workers from the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazal (JUI-F) defied the ban on demonstrations and amassed at the Karachi Press Club to hear the fiery speeches of their party leaders. They chanted slogans of support as Rashid Mehmood Soomro, Sindh President of the JUI-F, asked the protestors if they would join in to lay siege on the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
At the core is the issue of Aasia Bibi, a 51-year-old woman who was on death row for the past eight years after being convicted on blasphemy charges by a lower court in 2010. The Supreme Court on Wednesday overturned the decision citing a lack of credible evidence in her case, acquitting Bibi of all charges. Taking objection to the decision, the TLP and other religious parties are now pushing the top court to overrule the verdict, threatening that they would continue with their protests until the Supreme Court gives in.
Meanwhile, in Lahore, the Milli Yakjehti Council (MYC), an alliance of 15 religious groups, representing all schools of thoughts -- and including mainstream Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan (JIP), Jamiat-Ulema-e-Islam Fazal (JUIF), Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan (JUP), and Hafiz Saeed’s Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) -- gave a call for a nationwide strike on Friday.
“The MYC meeting presided by its president, Dr Sahibzada Abul Khair Zubair, has decided to observe a countrywide strike tomorrow,” Qaiser Sharif, central information Secretary of JIP, told Arab News.
Sharif added that the meeting also decided to hold an All Parties Conference (APC) at Lahore’s Al Qadsia mosque on Saturday. “The meeting will be followed by a media briefing, in which the future ‘line of action’ will be announced,” Sharif said. 
He added that the religious parties while condemning the “insulting” speech by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday night, have called upon his government to place Bibi on the Exit Control List, even as they announced plans to file a review petition in the case.
Zia Ur Rehman, a Karachi-based analyst, said that the TLP is a key political party which has exploited the issue of blasphemy and does not want other religious and sectarian parties to take advantage of it.
“The other religious parties, especially the Jamaat-e-Islami and the Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam-Fazl, did not take interest in the issue in the recent past,” said Rehman. “However, after the acquittal of Aasia Bibi, they have also jumped on the bandwagon but did not get so much praise from the religious circles.”
Abdul Jabbar Nasir, a political analyst studying the functioning of religious parties, said that PM Khan’s “unnecessary” speech on Wednesday night has given a further impetus to the cause of mainstream religious parties by pushing them to play an even more active role. “Religious political parties now believe that not launching a fierce campaign against the apex court’s judgment would result in their political and ideological death,” Nasir said.
Nasir recalls that the very foundation of TLP – led by Khadim Hussain Rizvi -- was built on the issue of blasphemy, specifically Bibi’s case. “It was the execution of Mumtaz Qadri which provided a base for Rizvi to launch his religious political party so he has no option but to go to any extreme for his survival,” Nasir opines.  “After the PM’s speech, the mainstream religious cliques would do maximum but still they would remain in limits.”
He added that TLP’s leadership is “accidental and thus not serious, so there are always chances of decisions being taken without keeping repercussions in mind. The mainstream groups would think before every likely step”.
However, Qari Muhammad Usman, central leader of the JUI-F, disagrees that protest was not a priority for the religious parties. “We were out on the road immediately after the apex court handed down the decision. We are out today and will continue to protest till the controversial decision is taken back,” Usman told Arab News.
Without naming PM Khan, the JUI-F leader said those who think only few are taking part in the protests are living in a fool’s paradise. “A governor and a federal minister have been killed whereas Mumtaz Qadri was also killed due to this case. It’s not a normal case and the apex court should have refrained from announcing a controversial verdict in it,” the JUIF leader argued.
JIP’s Sharif added that the religious parties won’t stop protesting but that the demonstrations would be completely peaceful and within the limits of the constitution.

South Africa's Du Plessis says bubble life is not sustainable for players

Updated 23 January 2021

South Africa's Du Plessis says bubble life is not sustainable for players

  • South Africa's Du Plessis says bubble life is not sustainable for players
  • The South African player beleives Babar Azam and Shaheen Afridi can pose problems for his team

ISLAMABAD: South African cricketer Faf du Plessis believes spending months in a bio-secure bubble could soon become a major challenge for players.

“We understand that this is a very tough season and a tough challenge for a lot of people out there, but if it’s back-to-back-to-back bubble life, things would become a big challenge,” du Plessis said during a virtual news conference on Saturday.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, cricketers have to adhere to strict procedures for an international series. In countries like Pakistan, international games are being played in empty stadiums and players' movement confined to just their hotel and stadiums.

Du Plessis is one of those South African cricketers, along with captain Quinton de Kock, to have experienced life in a bubble over the last few months. He played in the Indian Premier League in the United Arab Emirates and home series against Sri Lanka. Now he has a two-test series in Pakistan, starting Tuesday in Karachi, followed by the second test at Rawalpindi.

“The main priority is to play cricket, to be out there doing what we love instead of being at home … so I think that still remains the most important thing. But I think there would definitely come a point where players would struggle with this (bubble)," du Plessis said.

“If you look at a calendar of the last eight months, you’re looking at about four or five months in a bubble, which is a lot. For some of us (being) without family, it can get challenging. Right now, I’m still in a good place. I’m still feeling really motivated and driven, but I can only speak for myself.

“I don’t think it’s possible to continue from bubble to bubble to bubble, I’ve seen and heard a lot of players talk about it. I don’t think it’s sustainable.”

The South African team practiced at the National Stadium -- the venue for the test opener -- for the first time on Saturday. Before that, the visitors had been practicing at a stadium close to the team hotel for the last four days where they played intra-squad matches.

“For now, (I'm) enjoying the four walls of my room and then the pitch outside where we can get to do what we love,” du Plessis said.

The 36-year-old du Plessis, who has appeared in 67 test matches for South Africa with a batting average topping 40, will be playing his first test in Pakistan since making his debut against Australia in 2012. Pakistan last hosted South Africa in 2007. In 2009 international cricket’s doors were shut on Pakistan after an attack on the Sri Lanka cricket team bus at Lahore.

Du Plessis has played seven test matches against Pakistan that included two in the UAE and five in South Africa.

Du Plessis is South Africa’s most experienced player touring Pakistan, but wasn’t sure what type of wickets will be prepared for the two tests.

“I think that’s possibly the biggest thing that we are unsure about,” he said.

“As a team we try to prepare for everything and anything, overprepare, spin conditions, reverse swinging ball … if I have to call it, I probably said I think that wickets will be a bit more subcontinent like than it used to be back then (in 2007), so spinners would probably be more a little bit more in the game.”

Du Plessis has picked fit-again Pakistan all-format captain Babar Azam and fast bowler Shaheen Afridi as the two players who could pose problems for the tourists. Babar has regained fitness from a fractured thumb — in his absence Pakistan lost both the Twenty20 and test series in New Zealand.

“Obviously, having Babar back is massive for them,” du Plessis said.

“Afridi has been getting a lot of wickets, so probably someone like him would be pretty dangerous.”