Islamabad: A Pakistani lawyer has approached the Supreme Court seeking the disqualification of Interior Minister Rehman Malik for wrongly reciting a passage from the Quran during a cabinet meeting earlier this week.
Tariq Asad requested the court to disqualify Malik as a Member of Parliament after TV news channels beamed footage of the minister wrongly reciting "Surah Ikhlas", a brief passage from the Quran that most Muslims know by heart, at the start of a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
In the footage shown on television, Malik wrongly read the prayer three times as his cabinet colleagues laughed at his efforts. Malik contended that the passage had been wrongly printed in a piece of paper given to him by aides. Reports said an inquiry had been ordered into the faux pas.
In his constitutional petition, Asad claimed Malik`s ignorance of the "fundamentals of Islam" showed that he was not qualified to contest elections to Parliament. Asad named the federal government, the Chief Election Commissioner, the Senate chairman and the Prime Minister as respondents in his petition.
Malik is a member of the Senate or upper house of Parliament.
Asad asked the Supreme Court to direct the Senate chairman to refer the matter to the CEC to declare Malik disqualified under Article 63(2) of the Constitution. The Prime Minister should be directed by the court to remove the minister from the cabinet, Asad said.
Malik has come in for considerable criticism in the Pakistani media for his slip-up in reading the prayer. Some commentators have called for action against him under constitutional provisions.
They pointed out that Article 62 of the Constitution states that a parliamentarian should have "adequate knowledge of Islamic teachings and practises obligatory duties prescribed by Islam".