Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A Challenge That Will Go Unanswered

They may start killing each other in the streets over this one.
If Pakistan is so angry, give back our aid

Pakistanis have every right to voice their anger at the award of a knighthood to Salman Rushdie.

Equally, the rest of us have every right to express our anger at the deeply offensive response of Mohammed Ijaz ul-Haq, Pakistan's religious affairs minister who invoked the world's 1.5 billion Muslims and said: "If someone commits suicide bombing to protect the honour of the Prophet Mohammed, his act is justified."
C'mon, dude, be a leader, offer yourself as an example.
He later "clarified" his words, but we all know exactly what he was up to. And what of the Labour peer Lord Ahmed, who responds by saying Rushdie has "blood on his hands".
1000 to 1 he won't lead by becoming a splodeydope, either.
Some people like Rushdie's novels, others don't. Some say he's smug, others say he's delightful.

Yes, he has cost this country a lot in protecting him and through him, a core value of freedom of speech. But unless there is a strange and violent back-story we didn't know, Sir Salman hasn't the smallest drop of blood on his hands.

If Pakistan is so offended, however, there is a dignified way to deal with the problem.

Last year, Tony Blair went to Lahore to praise its "enlightened moderation" and to announce a rise in our aid budget to Pakistan from £236 million to £480 million.

If this is tainted money, it can presumably be returned.

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