Anti-Islam Film: US Slams Pak Minister for Bounty Offer
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The US today slammed a Pakistani minister for offering a hefty USD 100,000 bounty for killing the maker of an anti-Islam film, as Islamabad disassociated itself from the offer.

Calling Pakistan Railway Minister Ghulam Ahmad Bilour's offer as "inflammatory and inappropriate", a State Department statement said, "There could be no justification for violence and it is important for responsible leaders to stand up and speak out against violence."

Bilour on Saturday put up a bounty of USD 100,000 for killing the maker of the film 'Innocence of Muslims' and went to the extent of inviting Taliban and al-Qaeda to take part in what he called "noble deed".

The State Department said, "The (US) President and Secretary of State have both said the video at the core of this is offensive, disgusting, and reprehensible - but that is no justification for violence, and it is important for responsible leaders to stand up and speak out against violence."

But, the Pakistan government made it clear that the minister's offer did not represent official policy but did not say whether any action would be taken against him.

Foreign Office spokesman Moazzam Khan said the Railway Minister's announcement of a bounty for the maker of the offensive anti-Islam film "was representative of Bilour's personal views and had nothing to do with the official policy of the government of Pakistan".

Bilour's statement did not represent official policy, Khan said in a brief statement.

The statement did not say whether any action would be taken against Bilour, who had called on Taliban and al-Qaeda to help in the "noble cause" of killing the film's maker.

The minister, who belongs to the secular Awami National Party, triggered a storm on Saturday by announcing the bounty during a news conference in the northwestern city of Peshawar.

He repeated his offer while speaking on a TV news channel and did not change his position despite criticism from other leaders of his own party.

The government has been at pains to distance itself from Bilour's remarks, which have made the headlines in the US at a time when President Asif Ali Zardari is visiting New York to attend the UN General Assembly session.

Talking to reporters last night, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said Bilour's comments were an "expression of his own personal feelings and the government has nothing to do with it".

While addressing the media in Peshawar on Saturday, Bilour said: "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 dollars."
Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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