A day after the United States condemned an offer by a Pakistani minister to pay $100,000 for anyone who kills the maker of an anti-Islam film that has caused an outrage across the Muslim world, the government of Pakistan reiterated on Monday it had nothing to do with the bounty.
Pakistan's Foreign Office said in a statement Monday that the bounty put on the filmmaker's head reflected the personal view of Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, and was not Pakistan's official policy, The Associated Press reported.
The statement came a day after a U.S. State Department official told BBC that President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have both said the film on the Prophet Muhammad 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," the official added. "Therefore we find Mr. Bilour's announcement is inflammatory and inappropriate." The official also noted that the Pakistani prime minister's office had already dissociated itself from his comments.
Bilour, who is from the Awami National Party, an ally of the government of President Asif Ali Zardari, said at a press conference on Saturday that he would give $100,000 from his personal money to anyone who killed the filmmaker, urging the Taliban and al-Qaida to join the "noble deed." "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," he said.
The film, "The Innocence of Muslims," produced in California and posted online, portrays the Prophet Muhammad as a womanizer, child molester and ruthless killer. Clinton has described the film as an "awful Internet video that we had nothing to do with."
The filmmaker, identified by federal officials as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, is believed to be in hiding.
Since the first demonstrations over the film erupted on Sept. 11, more than 50 people have died around the world in violence linked to the low-budget movie.
The Pakistani government had declared Friday a national holiday, terming it as the "Day of Love for the Prophet," and encouraged people to protest peacefully. However, demonstrations turned violent, and 21 people were killed and at least 200 were injured in clashes between protesters and police in major cities.
A general election is due in the next few months and with anti-American sentiment running higher than ever in Pakistan, the government thought it could seize the moment to boost its popularity, AFP quoted Najam Sethi, editor-in-chief of a Pakistan-based newspaper, as saying.
Meanwhile, President Zardari arrived in New York on Sunday to lead the Pakistani delegation at the 67th session of the U.N. General Assembly. He is expected to raise his country's concerns over the film during his address on Tuesday, according to Pakistan's Dawn newspaper.