Blasphemy – A Lethal Weapon

Zakaria Virk
By: Zakaria Virk

Blasphemy laws exist on the books in many countries. But none is abused or used so vehemently as in Pakistan. No one needs a proof of this, as the statistics speak for themselves.

It is reported that 60 Pakistanis accused of blasphemy were murdered before their trials were finished. Prominent politicians and scholars have been assassinated who opposed draconian blasphemy laws. All in all 62 Pakistanis have been murdered accused of blasphemy.

Human Rights lawyers complain that blasphemy law “is overwhelmingly being used to persecute religious minorities and settle personal vendettas”. Here are some gruesome incidents which are horrifying in their nature. Blasphemy is one of the most serious crimes and parents have murdered their own children for merely being accused of it.

A Pakistani student shot and killed his school principal, in a dispute over the student skipping classes to attend rallies supporting the country’s strict blasphemy laws. Sareer Ahmed, principal of the private Islamia College in the northern town of Charsadda, had an argument with one of his students for missing a number of classes. The student then shot the principal on campus, local Police Chief Zahoor Afridi told Reuters.  Local police said:  “Obviously now he is going to say that he (the principal) committed blasphemy. This is a very unfortunate incident” .

Recently an anti-terrorism court in Haripur sentenced the man to death and handed life sentences to five other people in connection to the lynching of a student Mohammad Mashal Khan. Another 25 people were sentenced to four years, and 26 others were acquitted for lack of evidence.

However, all is not lost. In a recent case Pakistani female activist Gulalai Ismail, 31, turned tables on her accuser Hamza Khan, 23, by filing a lawsuit against him in November 2017 with Federal Investigation Agency. Khan was arrested on court order in Peshawar.

A shocking incident is reported which happened near Pasrur Punjab where 3 women confessed to shooting to death a man Nadeem Ashraf, 50, over allegedly insulting Prophet of Islam after he returned home from living in hiding in another country for 13 years.

A mob tried to kill a mentally disturbed man, Syed Abdul Rashid, inside a mosque after he declared that all Muslims should follow him as he has been appointed as their religious leader by God, according to local police official Asad Ullah.

Last month Pakistan Interior Ministry submitted to Islamabad High Court (IHC) a draft of proposed amendments to Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) 2016 which seek to equate punishments for a false accusation of blasphemy to the punishment for actually committing blasphemy.

If Saudi Arabia can make drastic changes for women’s rights, human rights, and grant freedoms unheard before, we are certain that someday Pakistan will do the same.

Zakaria Virk

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