The Pakistani prime minister has condemned his own Cabinet minister’s $100,000 reward for killing the maker of the anti-Islamic video, "Innocence of Muslims," that set off outrage among Muslims across the world.
Speaking to the BBC, Premier Raja Pervez Ashraf’s press secretary, Shafqat Jalil, said the government "absolutely disassociated" itself from the comments by Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmad Bilour.
In a news conference Saturday, Bilour had offered $100,000 to anyone who kills the anti-Islamic moviemaker.
“I announce today that this blasphemer, this sinner who has spoken nonsense about the holy Prophet, anyone who murders him, I will reward him with $100,000,” Bilour said to a cheering crowd. "I invite the Taliban brothers and the al Qaeda brothers to join me in this blessed mission,” Reuters reported.
Bilour’s Awami National Party, a central government coalition partner, told the BBC that this was his personal statement, not party policy.
Jalil said: "He is not a member of the (ruling) PPP (Pakistan People's Party), he is an ANP politician and therefore the prime minister will speak to the head of the ANP to decide the next step. They are not ruling out action against him but say he will stay in his post for now."
Protests in Pakistan over “Innocence of Muslims” turned violent Friday, killing at least 15 and injuring hundreds. Similar demonstrations in other parts of the world were largely peaceful.
People involved in the film, a low-budget U.S. production that portrays Prophet Mohamed as a fraudster, womanizer and a child molester, have said it was made by a 55-year-old California man, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula.
Nakoula has not returned to his home in the Los Angeles suburb of Cerritos since leaving voluntarily to be interviewed by federal authorities, Reuters reported. His family has since gone into hiding.
C. Uday Bhaskar, the former director of the New Delhi-based National Maritime Foundation, in a commentary published by Reuters, said the Pakistani minister offering bounty for the killing of the filmmaker was “unfortunate.”
“The support of religious extremism and related terror groups that advance the Pakistani national interest, as per the certitude that prevails in army headquarters Rawalpindi, is a Lady Macbeth stain; it will not go away,” Bhaskar wrote.
“Pakistan is an on-the-record ally in the United States' 'war against terror,' yet on the streets, Pakistan exudes the highest index of anti-U.S. sentiment in South Asia. In a 2012 Pew Research survey, three out of four Pakistanis consider the United States to be an enemy,” he wrote.