ISLAMABAD – A religious scholar has issued a fatwa against Prime Minster Nawaz Sharif for ‘blaspheming’ against Islam in his recent speech on Holi festival.

While delivering a sermon, Allama Ashraf Jalali,  a leader of Pakistan Ahle Sunnah wa Jama’ah and secretary of Sunni Ittehad Council, said that the prime minister had not only blasphemed against Islam but also demeaned the ‘ideological foundations’ of Pakistan.

Premier Sharif on 14th March had given a bold, progressive and inclusive message to minorities in the country, saying “no one can force others to adopt a certain religion”.

“God will not ask a ruler what he did for followers of a certain religion,” said Nawaz. “He will ask people such as me: what did we do for God’s creation?”

While demanding an open apology from PM, Jalali said the latter had also violated the oath that he took as prime minister.

PM Sharif is not the first politician to face ‘Kufr’ fatwa. Earlier, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan was also accused of blasphemy in one of his speeches.

Khan had to retract his words later and tender an open apology during a press conference for ‘hurting’ religious sentiments.

It is pertinent to note here that religious edicts against ‘infidelity’ in Pakistan have been a source of controversy and debate. Rights activists have argued that hate speech can’t be tolerated merely on the grounds that religious ‘pretext’ has been used for it.

Premier Nawaz Sharif’s speech on Holi festival was largely seen as a historic speech that elucidated inclusiveness, tolerance and coexistence for the country.