Pakistani daily lauds fatwa against polio workers' killing

Islamabad, Dec 24 (IANS) A fatwa that condemns the murder of innocent people deserves to be appreciated, said a leading Pakistani daily following the killings of workers who were administering anti-polio vaccines.

Even though the Pakistan Ulema Council did not specifically refer to the polio workers' killings, its condemnation of the murder of innocent people deserves to be applauded, said an editorial in the Dawn Monday.

The fatwa, issued Thursday by some of Pakistan's leading Darul Ulooms grouped under the PUC, denounced all murders and declared categorically that a suspect could be given justice only by the state.

"The fatwa has a direct relevance to the situation in Pakistan today, because it also denounces murders in 'streets or markets'," said the daily, adding: "The PUC fatwa recognises the equality of all citizens when it declares that a non-Muslim killed by a Muslim citizen deserves the same legal process as when a Muslim falls victim to murder."

The editorial said the significance of the fatwa "lies in its timing, for it comes at a time when some leading Islamic scholars and religious personalities have refrained from condemning acts of terror and the recent killings in Karachi and KP (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province) of anti-polio workers, most of them women".

It went on to say that while the fatwa must be lauded, "the silence which most heads of religious parties have maintained is astonishing".

"Even if some of them have condemned the polio workers' murder as a matter of form, what is missing is a unanimous and categorical denunciation of the barbaric attacks on people engaged in the noble task of immunising the future generation of Pakistanis against polio," the editorial added.