Railway Minister Ghulam Ahmad Bilour has put a $100,000 bounty on the head of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the man who made the anti-Islamic film “The Innocence of Muslims.” The offer to pay anyone who kills the filmmaker is reminscent of the Fatwa placed on the head of Salman Rushdie for his book, The Satanic Verses. However, this is not just a government official but an official in the government of a U.S. ally calling for the murder of a U.S. citizen. Yet, Bilour insisted “I am a Muslim first, then a government representative.”
Bilour also sought to enlist the Taliban and al Qaeda to carry out the assassination. Thus, in addition to wanting to be a murderer, Bilour wants to be a coconspirator with terrorists . . . when he is not managing trains as a government minister. He is a member of the Awami National Party. Sen. Zahid Khan, a spokesman for Bilour’s political party, insists that “we have lots of concerns over the statement of our colleague.” Since it is a confession of wanting to be both a murderer working with terrorist organizations, those “concerns” would seem considerable. The government itself has distanced itself from the comments but has not stated that it is taking steps to remove Bilour from any position of responsibility. Notably, his own party is viewed as anti-Taliban.
The question is whether Bilour will be immediately thrown from the government and his party. It seems odd that blasphemy is immediately subject to criminal charge in Pakistan, but a minister can try to hire terrorist hitmen and raise only initial “concerns” among party and government officials.