Separate religion from politics, pleads Pakistan lawmaker


May 4, 2007

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A Parsi lawmaker in Pakistan pleaded that religion be kept away from politics, creating an uproar in the country’s National Assembly and forcing the speaker to switch off his microphone.

M.P. Bhandara, member of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League, Monday stressed that as per founding father Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s vision of a secular polity, there was no role of religion in politics.

The only way terrorism could be tackled was by separating the two, added Bhandara, considered a maverick.

Reacting to his remarks, members of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) stood on their seats and shouted slogans against him. Speaker Chaudhry Ameer Hussain then switched off Bhandara’s microphone and asked him to sit down. This pacified the MMA and calmed the situation, The Daily Times reported.

Bhandara had recently moved a private member’s bill seeking inclusion into the country’s constitution Jinnah’s Aug 11, 1947 speech wherein he had advocated separation of religion from politics.

Sensing that ignoring Jinnah could cause protests, the government allowed the bill to be admitted.