|British MPs seek travel ban on Bilour|
25 September 2012
LONDON: British lawmakers have called for ban on visit of Pakistani Minister for Railways Ghulam Ahmed Bilour to UK, who offered to pay $100,000 to anyone who killed the maker of a film that has caused anger in many Muslim countries, British media reported.
According to England’s The Daily Telegraph, the minister is a regular visitor to London, where he and his brothers spend large parts of the year in family properties.
Conservative MPs want Mrs May to consider whether Mr Bilour should be prevented from coming to Britain because his presence would not be “conducive to the public good”.
One MP said: “Ministers should be looking at this. We don’t want extremists like that coming into the country.”
Another said: “We just can’t have people who incite violence in this way in Britain.”
Whitehall officials said the comments could affect Mr Bilour’s ability to visit the UK. The Home Office said it was aware of the comments.
Sources close to the family said that they feared Mr Bilour, the railways minister, would be banned from Britain.
The call has forced Pakistan’s prime minister and the minister’s own political party to distance themselves from him.
Mr Bilour’s invitation to Taliban and al-Qaeda militants — amounting to incitement to murder — was made the day after 21 were people were killed and 200 injured in violent protests throughout Pakistan.
“I announce today that this blasphemer who has disrespected the Holy Prophet, if somebody will kill him, I will give that person a prize of $100,000,” he said in Peshawar, the main power base of his Awami National Party, a key group in Pakistan’s coalition government.
“I also announce that if the government hands this person over to me, my heart says I will finish him with my own hands and then they can hang me.”
His offer to reward the killing of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the Egyptian Coptic Christian who made the anti-Islamic film The Innocence of Muslims, was his alone and did not reflect on his party or the government, he said.
“I alone will bear the consequences of the blasphemer’s killing including any prosecution by authorities overseas. It would be a matter between them and I,” he said.
One consequence may be a longer wait before he is allowed entry to Britain to enjoy a break from the scorching heat of Peshawar, where his family’s businesses are based. The minister, 73, and his three younger brothers, Bashir, Ilyas and Aziz, own several flour mills, four cinemas and properties in Pakistan, Dubai and London.
“Ghulam does have properties in London. They are joint properties with his family and when he goes to London, he stays there. He stays in their own apartment every season, between June and August when it’s hot here,” said a source close to the family.
But while the family is regarded as one of Peshawar’s wealthiest, the minister’s comments have left them isolated while the government and his party leadership consider disciplinary action.
Pakistan’s prime minister and his own party dissociated themselves from him yesterday amid widespread disbelief that a senior minister who is well known for his opposition to terrorism had incited murder.
“This is not government policy. We completely dissociate (ourselves) from this,” a spokesman for Raja Pervez Ashraf, the Prime Minister, said yesterday.
The Awami National Party yesterday disowned his comments, stressing they were his own personal views. Sources close to his family — one of Peshawar’s most prominent political and business families — described him as a dedicated opponent of Islamic militancy who strongly supported Nato intervention in Afghanistan.
The brothers are regular visitors to America, where some of their children are at university.
Asma Jahangir, Pakistan’s leading human-rights campaigner, said Pakistani laws did not cover incitement to murder, so it was highly unlikely that Mr Bilour would face criminal prosecution.
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