Posts tagged ‘blasphemy laws’

December 31, 2010

Blasphemy laws: The shape of things to come – by Omar Ali

by admin

Taking Sides : The Liberals and the Right

The decision of a lower court to award the death penalty to a poor Christian woman accused of blasphemy has ignited a wide debate over Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. Liberals have asked that the Zia-era blasphemy law should be repealed or amended because it has become an instrument of oppression and injustice in the hands of mobs and

December 28, 2010

Pakistani Hindu families seek political asylum in India

by admin


According to the report published in various national ‘Dailies’ and in international media with regard to the Pakistani Hindu families seek asylum in India. The Times of India report says Kidnapping, killing force Pak Hindus to seek political asylum in India. The Hindu says In the latest incident in that country targeting minorities, an abducted elderly spiritual leader is still untraced.

Ravaged by attacks and extortion, dozens of Hindu families from Pakistan’s Baluchistan province have sought political asylum at Islamabad’s Indian High Commission , a senior official said.

‘‘ As many as 27 families have sent their applications to the high commission,’’ Pakistan human rights ministry’s regional director Saeed Ahmed Khan said in Quetta on Sunday. Khan said Hindus have been living in Baluchistan for centuries, but many have been forced to flee due to kidnapping of several members of the community.

The province’s Hindus took to streets in Khuzdar, Quetta, Kalat and Naushki towns and blocked a highway linking it to Karachi to protest their spiritual leader Laxmi Chand Garji’s kidnapping along with four companions — Sajan Das, Ram Chand , Babo Lal and Venod Kumar — last week. The 82-year-old leader heads Qalat’s Kali Mandir.

Baluch Trouble

Protests rage in Baluchistan as spiritual leader Laxmi Chand Garji kidnapped along with 4 companions Hindu families in region say kidnapping and extortion have become routine, allege that cops support kidnappers
Kidnappers backed by police, says leader

The kidnappers later released three of Garji’s companions. Sajan Das said the kidnappers blindfolded and tied their hands before dropping them off at a deserted place.

Baluchistan DIG Hamid Shakil said around 78 groups of criminals operate in the province. ‘‘ These gangs are mostly responsible for kidnapping for ransom and target killing,’’ he said.

Addressing the protesters outside Khuzdar Press Club, a community leader said the government has failed to protect the life and property of the minority, particularly those belonging to the minority community. ‘‘ The incidents of kidnapping had become routine and it seems that the gangsters have been given a free hand,’’ he said. He alleged that police and other law enforcement agencies were supporting the kidnappers .

Baluchistan chief minister Nawab Mohammad Aslam Raisani said he has directed the cops to secure Garji’s release at the earliest. ‘‘ I believe it’s an incident of kidnapping for ransom and doesn’t have any religious overtones,’’ Raisani said.

Pakistan has a Hindu population of about 25 lakh and of these Baluchistan has about 40,000. Like Hindus in Sindh, most Hindus there work as traders and small businessmen. They speak the local dialect and follow local tribal customs.

Slain tribal chief Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti , who led a separatist movement in the province, awarded the tribal name of Bugti to Hindus living in his area. He also got a local Hindu leader, Arjun Dass Bugti, elected as the province’s deputy speaker.(Source)

In Pakistan, to be a minority is a curse ?

Pakistan, which does not let go of any opportunity to heckle India on perceived human rights violations, stands exposed as at least 27 Hindu families from Balochistan have approached the Indian High Commission in Islamabad seeking political asylum in this country. The drastic step taken by the Hindus, who have been living in the Province for centuries, shows their miserable plight and that they can no longer live in fear of abduction for ransom, armed robberies and murder. When a Pakistani official — Regional Director for the Federal Ministry of Human Rights Saeed Ahmed Khan — expresses great concern and urges the Pakistani Government to take immediate measures to improve the law and order situation, it serves to underscore that it has failed miserably in its duty to protect the religious minorities from growing Islamist violence. Most important, the Pakistani Government cannot even term it as a false allegation because statistics of its Ministry of Human Rights reveals an alarming rise in the cases of human rights violation in Balochistan. The situation in Sind, where 95 per cent of the Hindus in Pakistan live, is worse. A BBC report, published earlier this year, has cited several cases of abduction, torture, rape and murder to show how Hindus face an uncertain future in Pakistan due to its Government’s failure to take action against Islamic groups hostile to minorities.

Hindus in Pakistan seeking asylum in India is a stark reminder that minority Hindus continue to suffer apartheid in that country despite Gen Pervez Musharraf abolishing the separate electorate system as no political party fights for their cause or respects their aspirations. Therefore, it is extremely galling to see Pakistani leaders taking the moral high ground and indulging in self-righteous rhetoric — both Houses of Pakistan’s National Assembly adopted resolutions in September condemning the ‘violence’ against Kashmiri people to ‘sensitise’ the international community — when discriminatory laws in their own land foster intolerance and compel the oppressed to suffer in silence. Certainly, it is the prerogative of every sovereign state to legislate the laws of its land, but at the same time, it does not merit reiteration that every Government is bound by its responsibility to protect the weak and the vulnerable. Pakistan has relentlessly pursued the Kashmir issue on every conceivable international forum, brazenly accusing India of imagined atrocities. But today, it stands accused of charges it levels against others. Its not Hindus alone who suffer indignity and worse in Pakistan; Christians are treated like criminals and charges of blasphemy are levelled against them on the flimsiest of excuses. The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is anything but a republic; it’s a hell for minorities.

بلوچستان سے ہندو خاندانوں کی ہجرت

بلوچستان میں انسانی حقوق کے ڈایکٹر نے کہا ہے کہ عدم تحفظ کی وجہ سے ہندوبرادری کے بہت سے لوگ مجبوراً ہجرت کرکے ہندوستان جاچکے ہیں

ہندو برادری نے اغوا برائے تاوان کی بڑھتی ہو وارداتوں پر سخت پریشانی کا اظہار کیا ہے

دوسری جانب ہندوبرادری نے ایک ہفتہ قبل اغواء ہونے والے ہندومذہبی پیشواکی فوری بازیابی کا مطالبہ کیا ہے۔ جبکہ پیرکو جعفرآباد سے نامعلوم افراد نےہندومذہب سے تعلق رکھنے والے ایک اور سب انجینئر کو اغواء کرلیا ہے ۔

کوئٹہ سے بی بی سی کے نامہ نگار ایوب ترین کے مطابق پیر کے روز بلوچستان کے ضلع جعفرآباد میں بعض نامعلوم مسلح افراد نے ہندو مذھب سے تعلق رکھنے والے سابق مقامی صحافی اور محکمہ ایریگیشن کے سب انجینئر نانک رام کو اغواء کرلیا ہے۔ مقامی پولیس نے مقدمہ درج کرلیاہے لیکن تاحال انکا سراغ نہیں لگاسکی ہے

دوسری جانب ایک ہفتہ قبل قلات میں اغواء ہونے والے قدیم ہندومندرکےمہاراج اور ہندو مذہبی پیشوا حسین لکھ میر اور انکا ساتھی ونود کمار کی بازیابی ابھی تک ممکن نہیں ہوسکی ہے۔
دوسری جانب ہندوبرادری نے ایک ہفتہ قبل اغواء ہونے والے ہندومذہبی پیشواکی فوری بازیابی کا مطالبہ کیا ہے۔ جبکہ پیرکو جعفرآباد سے نامعلوم افراد نےہندومذہب سے تعلق رکھنے والے ایک اور سب انجینئر کو اغواء کرلیا ہے ۔

کوئٹہ سے بی بی سی کے نامہ نگار ایوب ترین کے مطابق پیر کے روز بلوچستان کے ضلع جعفرآباد میں بعض نامعلوم مسلح افراد نے ہندو مذھب سے تعلق رکھنے والے سابق مقامی صحافی اور محکمہ ایریگیشن کے سب انجینئر نانک رام کو اغواء کرلیا ہے۔ مقامی پولیس نے مقدمہ درج کرلیاہے لیکن تاحال انکا سراغ نہیں لگاسکی ہے

دوسری جانب ایک ہفتہ قبل قلات میں اغواء ہونے والے قدیم ہندومندرکےمہاراج اور ہندو مذہبی پیشوا حسین لکھ میر اور انکا ساتھی ونود کمار کی بازیابی ابھی تک ممکن نہیں ہوسکی ہے۔

Source: BBC Urdu

December 28, 2010

Happy new year? – by Kamran Shafi

by admin
WELL, hopefully, what with the obscurantist forces back on the march in an attempt to bludgeon into submission those who advocate the imperative and immediate need of making the blasphemy laws in this country less draconian, less obnoxious; what with the gas loadshedding that makes even cooking a meal an uphill task, let alone heating the house during this cold snap; and what with the power outages, five every day where we live in the Lahore cantonment.

Coming to the blasphemy law and to what seems to have impelled their holinesses to take up cudgels at this time against this much-misused law which misuse has seen many innocent people killed brutally before any blasphemy could be proved against them.

It is curious that Maulana Fazlur Rehman should have been one of the leaders of a conference called to gather other holinesses under the banner of the Tahafuz-i-Namoos-i-Risalat and to agitate the matter through protests and public meetings so soon after one of his party`s federal ministers was sacked from the cabinet.

Nor is this the only matter that points to the maulana`s too-clever-by-half position on the blasphemy law. When confronted with the question that the law should be changed because it is often misused, the maulana asked that if a section of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) was also misused did it mean that it should be changed. He also said that the law was misused against Muslims mainly, and less against minorities (so there is no need to change it).

For the first, one can immediately say that if certain sections of the PPC were open to misuse and a tweaking of those would make them fairer, they should be tweaked and changed and made fairer. As to the second assertion of the maulana, it is as important that the law be changed to benefit innocent Muslims as it should be changed for benefiting members of the minority communities. Who can forget the horrific murder of a hafiz-i-Quran in Gujranwala in 1994 at the hands of a mob egged on by the imam of a local mosque?

The poor man was beaten mercilessly, tied behind a motorcycle and dragged through the streets, and then set on fire. And all because he and the imam could not see eye to eye on certain matters. Some said at the time that the imam was less literate and less knowledgeable about religious texts than the victim, who was consulted more on matters theological by the locals than the imam.

It is frightening, is it not, that the same people who admired him were his murderers too. Such is the power of a misused pulpit in a highly emotive matter such as blasphemy.

Who can forget the case of Salamat Masih, a 12-year old, illiterate Christian boy who could neither read nor write, and who was accused, variously, of writing words and sentences blasphemous of our Holy Prophet (PBUH) on the walls of a mosque, and of writing blasphemous things on pieces of paper, wrapping a brickbat in that paper and flinging it into the mosque and on to those at prayer.

In short, every manner of impossible story was spun around poor Salamat Masih and his uncle too. All the evidence at the time pointed to the fact that the whole drama was staged by the local bigwig who asked favours of Salamat Masih`s sister, favours that were not granted.

Pray look at the aftermath of this horrendous case: Masih`s uncle was gunned down one day as uncle and nephew were waiting for a bus after the hearing of their appeal by the Lahore High Court. And the judge who acquitted Masih was himself shot and killed in his lawyer`s chambers when he went back to practising law after leaving the bench.

There are many other heart-wrenching stories of murder and mayhem to do with the blasphemy law, one of the most sad the torching of Christian homes in Gojra on the pretext of one of the residents committing blasphemy when the real reason was that some influential people wanted to grab the Christian`s land.

So far we have only talked about Christians; that other much-persecuted community made up of our Ahmadi countrymen and women, our sisters and our brothers, has also been made the target of this law, about which I have written reams in the past.

I would call upon all God-fearing Muslims, especially our political leaders, to come together and join the movement to make changes in the blasphemy law which are necessary to ensure that it will never again be used to settle scores. If we are half as civilised as we say we are, we simply must open our hearts to our minorities. We must give them succour, for they too are the Almighty`s children. Otherwise His will be a terrible accounting.

Happy New Year (hope-fully!).(Source)

December 23, 2010

An open letter to the leadership and workers of the PPP – by Shuja

by admin


With the drop out of the JUI from the ruling coalition, the PPP government suddenly looks vulnerable. And the fact is that it has become vulnerable. The possibility of the revival of defunct MMA has already been raised.

The historical parallels are very chilling. Those who witnessed the clerical movement in the late seventies against Z.A. Bhutto’s elected government have reasons to be fearful of the developing scenario. What is therefore imperative is to derive the correct lessons from history so that we do not let it repeat, for the very thought of it sends shivers down the spine.

The first thing that PPP needs to do is to shun its obstinacy and habit of placing the responsibility of Bhutto’s fall and subsequent long persecutions of the Party workers on the unconstitutional actions of certain individuals or on adverse circumstances. A clear assessment should be made of the achievements as well failures of the founder of PPP keeping in mind that the latter by no means diminish the former. All great leaders do make mistakes but the tendency to overlook them by their followers often leads to the eclipse of what they had achieved.

To put it briefly, the chief mistake that Bhutto made was the appeasement of the clerics. Why he had to do this? This is a complex question but in the context of the times, it was chiefly his foreign policy vision that determined the change of his course on which he had won the mandate to rule. His coming to power was a revolution, for he mobilized masses and got himself elected on socialist, progressive agenda that demanded radical socio-political changes in the society. It included striking at the power of all the forces of Reaction, of which the feudal lords, clerics and the army were the three interlinked wings. However, while in power, he gradually got disillusioned with and became alienated from the progressive agenda and the forces representing it.

The change of course was determined by his thinking that Pakistan would gain more by unifying the Islamic world around his leadership, tapping the resources of the Islamic world and creating a third block besides the ones led by USA and USSR. Such thinking marked a reversal at the home front that led to a series of legislation such as banning of alcohol and declaration of Ahmadis as non-Muslims. This was a dangerous path that he chose for himself. What he failed to see was that in the Cold War era the clerical forces were deeply allied with the USA. Therefore his strategy of standing up to the US while appeasing the clerics at home was bound to lead nowhere but his own downfall.

Now political parties, by their intention and structure, are driven to political power. Parties are indeed formed, as PPP did, on idealism, but once a party becomes part of the establishment, there is no room for idealism in its discourse or strategy. Thus long before Tony Blair in the mid 1990s went on to modernize the Labour Party and ditched clause four, the chief remnant of Labour Party’s socialist legacy, to make it acceptable to the British establishment and the US, Benazir made peace with the executioners of his father at home and abroad and made his party electable once again.

Since then the leadership of the party has come to believe that with its roots in all the provinces of the country it has secured its right to rule the country in a democratic set up. But that is not the case. The religious right considers democracy that invests power to legislate to the people and their elected parliament as contrary to the Sharia and therefore un-Islamic. According to their vision of Islam the ultimate authority in the Islamic society rests with the ideologues and guardians of the Sharia, namely, the clerics.

It is a brilliant fact of the history of this country that its people decisively rejected this view of Islam in 1970 in both parts of the country
. Leading the Islamic world from the front they demonstrated their understanding that the clerical view of Islam was only an ideology of the obscurantist forces, forming a nexus of clerics, feudal lords and the army, that seek to maintain the outdated and unjust social and economic structure of the society. Now although this view continues to hold the Islamic world in thrall to this day, Pakistani people have never in any free elections since 1970 voted for the religious parties. This is the core fact that we must remember in our review of the strategy being proposed.

The second core fact in this regard is the radical change in the geopolitical situation of the world. For now, after the fall of USSR, a war has broken out between the former allies that brought the USSR down. The USA, the remaining superpower, though increasingly on the wane, is at loggerheads with the global network of Islamic clerics. For the present PPP leadership, therefore, it is a folly to follow Benazir’s policy of appeasing both the US and the clerics. Even from purely pragmatic or realist perspective, that guided Benazir to revise the direction, it is no more conducive to keep the party in power.

It is well pointing out that the West, led by the USA, has all along betrayed its own ideals of Enlightenment by supporting the forces of reaction in the non-Western world (Third World). It has been content in creating Westernized elites in these countries that could exercise control over their people by whatever means. The policy no doubt helped them in beating their internal foe but the price was unimaginable by their wildest dreams. For it is now widely feared that Afghanistan might also become the graveyard of the remaining superpower. For this reason the US seems prepared, however unwillingly, to support Pakistani government to take on the clerics and cut them to their size. (I said unwillingly because by their colonial heritage the West remains fearful of any independent country outside its hemisphere.)

This remarkable development and change in global situation provides the PPP leadership and workers with a historic opportunity to take the revolution further which their leader unleashed in 1970 and which was left unfinished largely due to the then geoplotical situation. Now, with all quiet on the Western front, it is the very realism, and from the objective to remain in power, which demands that the PPP abandon its fear of the clerics and leading the people from the front confront them and curb their power, hugely disproportional to their vote bank, that they continue to enjoy in our society.

In the current debate over the blatantly unjust Blasphemy Law and the persecution of a helpless Christian woman, the cat has once again come out of the bag. The clerics, who are hugely supported by the other two partners in the nexus, have made it clear that they do not accept the sovereignty of the parliament and its right to legislate however it deems fit, or even the right of the constitutionally elected President to exercise his right to grant pardon to any one condemned by any court of the country. Thus once again it is this simple question at the centre of the debate that whether these are the people who govern this country through their elected representatives or the clerics by virtue of their self-professed divine right.

The PPP leadership and workers, therefore, need to wake up and read the situation correctly which is really hugely in their favour this time. It is perhaps the opportunity of the same magnitude that came on the way of their leader in 1970 and which he lost as much due to his own failures as for the determinations of history. They must not lose it this time, for on its fulfillment hangs the fate of our future generations.

Especially for President Zardari it would be a folly to believe that he can survive by giving in to the clerics, for he should remember that their appetite for power is insatiable. They know that they cannot win in a general election so they are bent upon using Islam to create a situation whereby their partners in the nexus could intervene in the name of national security and install a government that keeps them happy.

I understand that for President Zardari it would be difficult to make a u-turn and renounce the legacy of not only the later-day Bhutto but also of his own spouse who was instrumental in the making and rise of the Taliban. But Zardari has a huge advantage at his disposal, for the US-cleric coalition that framed the unfortunate legacy is now broken. Our country has become a laughing stock in the world for getting all the money from outside world to fight with the militant vanguard of the clerics while inside keeping their lifelines intact. It is indeed mind boggling that a government which openly claims to be an ally of the USA in the so-called war on terror should leave the lifeline of its vocal internal enemies intact. Choosing the path of confronting them openly will surely enhance the stature of this country in the international community and will surely wash the stigma that this is a nation of hypocrites run by a hypocritical government.

Zaradari has really nothing to lose, for he has nothing substantial to his credit for which Pakistani people could hold him in special reverence. But he has the opportunity to make his name in history and even grow larger than her late spouse and become second Bhutto by leading the people in their struggle to free themselves from the yoke of the reactionary forces that have held them hostage since the inception of this country.

He must not consider, like Bhutto, that the seat he sits on makes him secure. He must come out of the Presidency, for if he thinks it is a castle, he must know that it has the foundations of sand. He must go to the people and seek a fresh mandate on the simple question as to who possesses the right to govern this country, the people or the clerics and their allied network.

In a personal meeting the other day I heard from a PPP MNA, a close associate of Zardari, that when the party members come to him with long faces, frightened by the rising dangers to their power, he raises their spirits in no time and they leave happily, saying: He is all right, he says all is well and there is nothing to fear as long as we stand united. So he enjoys the reputation of being a brave man among his party cadre. But Bhutto was no less a brave man, though at the end it could only help him saying to his executioner: Make it quick.

The truth is that it is only the people of Pakistan who can save Zardari if he opts to come out to them. He must rally all the enlightened intelligentsia of the country around him and prepare his party to find the battle on two fronts. First, that it is the people of Pakistan and their elected representatives who have the sole right to govern their country and not the clerics and, second, the view of Islam and the Sharia as propagated by the clerics is a tendentious, obscurantist view that conflicts with the teachings of the Quran and message of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.

On my part I, who am a member of the academia in this country, can offer support on the second front. And I will conclude this brief letter with two questions. First, the clerics claim their authority higher than the people’s legislature in the name of the divine right of the ulema to guard Islam and the lives of its adherents. Is this right sanctioned in the Quran? The simple answer is no, it contradicts the teaching, even the words of the Quran, and further, it had no sanction all along in the history of premodern Islamic civilization. It is simply the other side of the conventional belief in the divine of the kings and the Quran supports neither the one nor the other, for both stand and fall together.

Now there is an important concept of asbab an-nazul (the reasons or causes behind the revelation of the verses of the Quran) employed in the exegesis of the Quran which helps us in understanding the answer just given. Extending this concept we must ask as to what were the reasons of the descent of the Quran itself and the institution of a separate religion than Judaism and Christianity whose texts it affirmed again and again? One of the chief reasons was the institution of priesthood in both Judaism and Christianity that claimed a position between the believers and God and thereby claimed the right to control the whole mental and practical life of the believers. In the new dialectic between the individual and community that the Quran developed, each and every individual stood face to face with God while the right to legislate was invested in the community. It is clear then that the divine sanction of the clerical authority derives from Jewish and Christian influences and is therefore un-Islamic, for it is completely rejected by the Quran.

As for the second question, the clerics hold that the Quran is pre-eminently a book of the Law, or Sharia, and since they hold all the knowledge of it, they also hold the ultimate authority on how the people of this country should live their lives. Now there are 6236 verses of the Quran of which only 290 deal with the Law. What are the rest of the verses about? The truth is that they virtually do not exist for the clerics.

December 21, 2010

Christians will observe Christmas as a 'protest day', Sandul prays for Aasia Bibi

by admin

President Asif Ali Zardari yesterday said that his government would not allow the blasphemy law to be used for the settling personal scores. “The government,” he insisted, “will take all appropriate measures, whether administrative, procedural or legislative to stop growing incidents of misuse of the blasphemy law”.


A number of Pakistani Christian organizations have decided that they will observe Christmas as a Protest Day. The decision has been made in All Pakistan Christian Parties Conference, the Christians’ will also host black flags on their residences and business houses against the blasphemy laws and enormities toward minorities. According to a report published in the BBC Urdu human rights activists expressed fear of security risk attached with newly formed alliance of radical religious parties and it’s life threatening warning of anarchy if the civilian government attempts to repeal the nation’s strict blasphemy law and pardon Asia Bibi. The leaders of the All Christian Parties Conference have decided to take to the streets on Christmas Day to call on the government to repeal the blasphemy law and the conference also noted that President Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Human rights activist Asma Jehanghir and Punjab Governor Salman Taseer have all concluded that Asia Bibi is innocent, Speakers have also expressed disappointment that they have not received justice from courts.

Activists from various Christian organizations have also reiterated that they will support Sherry Rehman’s bill seeking amendments to blasphemy laws.

In a related development, Sherry Rehman is no longer alone in her campaign. The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) has recommended several amendments to the blasphemy law, but it is still opposed to its repeal.

The Council has suggested a number of procedural amendments to ensure that the law is not misused against any individual irrespective of his religion. Capital punishment should however be retained for people who wilfully offend.

Criticism of the misuse of the law is widespread though. Several Pakistani human rights organisations are leading the charge, complaining that the legislation discriminates against minorities.

President Asif Ali Zardari yesterday said that his government would not allow the blasphemy law to be used for the settling personal scores. “The government,” he insisted, “will take all appropriate measures, whether administrative, procedural or legislative to stop growing incidents of misuse of the blasphemy law”.

The President made the statement during a meeting with a delegation that included MNAs from the country’s minorities led by Federal Minority Affairs minister.

“Our faith Islam teaches us deep respect for the rights of all human beings,” the president said.

Here is a news item published in BBC Urdu:

آسیہ کو سزا، کرسمس پر یومِ احتجاج
پاکستان میں مسیحی برادری نے رواں سال کرسمس کے تہوار کو یومِ احتجاج کے طور پر منانے کا فیصلہ کیا ہے۔

یہ فیصلہ ایک مسیحی خاتون آسیہ بی بی کی توہین رسالت کے قانون کے تحت دی جانے والی سزائے موت کے فیصلے کے سبب کیا گیا ہے۔

مسیحی رہنما جوزف فرانسس کے مطابق آل پاکستان کرسچن پارٹیز کانفرنس کے ایک اجلاس میں یہ فیصلہ کیا گیا ہے کہ پچیس دسمبر کو لاہور میں ایک احتجاجی مظاہرہ کیا جائے گا اور پورے پاکستان میں مسیحی برادری گھروں اور عبادت گاہوں پر کالے جھنڈے لہرائے گی۔

لاہور میں بی بی سی کی نامہ نگار مناء رانا سے بات کرتے ہوئے بتایا کہ اس برس کرسمس کی عبادت بھی انتہائی سادگی کے ساتھ کی جائے گی۔

جوزف فرانسس کا کہنا تھا کہ آسیہ بی بی بے گناہ ہیں اور ان کی سزا درست نہیں اور ان کے مقدمے کی تفتیش میں خامیاں تھیں۔انہوں نے کہا کہ ہمیں خدشہ ہے کہ آسیہ کو جیل میں قتل نہ کر دیا جائے۔

کرسمس کو اس طرح منانے کا ایک مقصد یہ ہے کہ ہم توہین رسالت کے قانون اور اس فیصلے کے خلاف بین الاقوامی دباؤکو بڑھانا چاھتے ہیں اور پاکستان میں تمام مسیحی برادری کو ایک پلیٹ فارم پر اکٹھا کرنا چاہتے ہیں تاکہ تمام لوگ اپنے گھروں پر سیاہ پرچم لہرائیں اور یہ پرچم اس وقت تک لہرائے جاتے رہیں گے جب تک 295 سی اور بی کی قانونی دفعات ختم نہیں کی جاتیں۔
جوزف فرانسس کے مطابق کرسمس کو اس طرح منانے کا ایک مقصد یہ ہے کہ ہم توہین رسالت کے قانون اور اس فیصلے کے خلاف بین الاقوامی دباؤکو بڑھانا چاھتے ہیں اور پاکستان میں تمام مسیحی برادری کو ایک پلیٹ فارم پر اکٹھا کرنا چاہتے ہیں تاکہ تمام لوگ اپنے گھروں پر سیاہ پرچم لہرائیں اور یہ پرچم اس وقت تک لہرائے جاتے رہیں گے جب تک 295 سی اور بی کی قانونی دفعات ختم نہیں کی جاتیں۔

جوزف فرانسس نے کہا کہ ’پاکستان کی بعض مذہبی جماعتوں نے آسیہ بی بی کو سزایے موت کے فیصلے پر عمل درآمد کے لیے پمفلٹ اور پوسٹرز شائع کیے ہیں، ہم ان کی مزمت کرتے ہیں۔ یہ ملک میں مذہبی رواداری کے خلاف ہے اور کچھ مذہبی جماعتیں اس ضمن میں حکومت پر جو دباؤ ڈال رہیں ہیں اس میں ان کے ذاتی مفاد پنہاں ہیں‘۔

جوزف فرانسس نے کہا کہ شیری رحمان نے توہین رسالت کے بارے میں جو ترمیمی بل پیش کیا ہے ہم اس کی حمایت کرتے ہیں اور اس کے لیے ہم نے ایک کمیٹی بنائی ہے جو ارکان پارلیمان سے مل کر انہیں بتائے گی کہ توہین رسالت کے تحت بنائے جانے والے مقدمات جھوٹے اور بے بنیاد ہوتے ہیں۔

یاد رہےکہ پاکستان میں متعدد افراد کو توہین رسالت کے تحت سزائے موت سنائی جا چکی ہے جبکہ آسیہ بی بی پہلی خاتون ہیں جو اس قانون کے تحت سزا وار قرار پائیں۔

آسیہ بی بی کے فیصلے کے خلاف ہائی کورٹ لاہور میں اپیل دائر کی جا چکی ہے تاہم پاکستان میں ناموس رسالت اور دیگر مزہبی جماعتیں آسیہ کو سزا دینے کے لیے مظاہرے اور اجلاس منعقد کر رہے ہیں۔

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/pakistan/2010/12/101220_xmas_aasia_protest_zs.shtml

Christmas in ‘Islamic State’

Another report which suggests that this Christmas many Christians in predominantly Muslim nations will also be shadowed by fear.

In Iraq, churches have recently been bombed and Christians murdered. In Pakistan, Asia Bibi awaits hanging, accused of insulting the prophet Mahommad(PBUH).

Radio Australia summarizes Asia Bibi blasphemy case.

Pakistan: Released Prisoner Prays for Asia Bibi

Sandul Bibi recently met with one international organization VOM in Pakistan to celebrate one year since her release from prison. Sandul was arrested in October, 2009, and falsely charged with tearing pages from the Holly Quran. During the time of freedom Sandul and the other took time out to pray specifically for Asia Bibi, another Christian in Pakistan who is currently facing a death sentence for alleged blasphemy against Prophet Mohammed(PBUH).

This video includes Sandul’s prayer for Asia Bibi, as well as her comments about Pakistan’s blasphemy laws that are so often used against innocent citizens.

December 19, 2010

Pakistan's powerful religious right: How Islam has shaped modern Pakistan – by Urmila Venugopalan

by admin

It’s Unfortunate that native Sufi Islam in Pakistan has become threatened by Wahabi Islam(Saudi Arabia’s official Islamic ideology), especially in many areas of the northwestern area and southern Punjab. The mordancy, of course, is that Wahabism was imported into Pakistan by the state and nurtured through radical education.

The Article below depicts an interesting case study in the history of radicalization in Pakistan. There is a gradual replacement of liberal, tolerant, and syncretic Sufi Islam with conservative, intolerant, and fascist Wahabi Islam in Pakistan over the past 30 years.

Thanks to the long military rules and security-intelligence establishment’s ill-conceived policies of strategic depth and bleed India’ that also disturbed the traditional religious fabric of the land by challenging the prevalent Sufism in the area. Most Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan have embraced the puritanical and radical Wahabi brand of Islam. These new Wahabis with Saudi Arabia backing have not only waged a jihad against the western “infidels” but also against the believers of Sufi Islam.

Fodder for the Taliban

Pakistan’s powerful religious right – How Islam has shaped modern Pakistan -by Urmila Venugopalan

Islamist parties and organizations across Pakistan are warning of anarchy if the civilian government attempts to repeal the nation’s strict blasphemy law and pardon Asia Bibi, an illiterate farm worker who was sentenced to death last month. Following Bibi’s sentencing, on Dec. 12 a doctor in Pakistan’s Sindh province was arrested on suspicion of violating the same controversial law.

An understanding of the religious right’s rise, particularly its powerful role in the Islamization of the country and its laws and the group’s continuing significance, highlights one of the key challenges to Pakistan’s stability.

This is a puzzle that has played a major role in the US government’s failure to force or persuade the Pakistanis to eliminate the safe havens for the Taliban and al Qaeda across the border in Afghanistan, where America has been embroiled in a nine-year war that started after the Sept. 11, 2001 destruction of the World Trade Towers in New York and so far has cost nearly 1,500 NATO troops’ lives.

The influence of such parties is all the more striking given their lack of a popular support base comparable with the mainstream secular parties. Although Pakistan remains on the whole a largely conservative country, the most recent general elections, held in February 2008, produced a resounding defeat of the Islamist parties.

Nevertheless, the religious right has succeeded in blocking or diluting any attempt to reform discriminatory Islamic legislation, including the blasphemy law. This is because over the years, politically expedient alliances with the military have afforded Islamist parties a level of authority and influence that is disproportionate to their electoral clout.

The religious right and the army have come together at various times in Pakistan’s recent history. Under the rule of both Zia ul-Haq and Pervez Musharraf, the military has allied with conservative religious groups with the shared objective of undermining the secular mainstream parties, namely the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

For example, during the 1980s, General Zia’s allies included the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) and orthodox Sunni political parties such as the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) among others. Both the JI and JUI were the military’s main partners during the Afghan jihad, helping to recruit and indoctrinate foot soldiers for the anti-Soviet campaign. During this conflict, JI and JUI-operated madrassas in the northwest of Pakistan, near the Afghan border, became primary recruiting and training grounds for jihadi forces. The JI also became an important ally in domestic politics. Indeed, the general’s Islamization drive at home was aimed at legitimizing his rule, winning the support of JI and other religious parties, and marginalizing the PPP-led secular opposition. This resulted in a raft of amendments, which institutionalized discrimination against minority communities such as non-Muslims and Ahmadis, a marginal Sunni sect, and women.

Similarly, Musharraf’s desire to crush his main opposition, Benazir Bhutto’s PPP and Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N, prompted him to back and empower the Muttahida Masjlis-e-Amal (MMA). This six-party Islamist alliance was led by the JI and the JUI-F, Fazlur Rehman’s Deobandi (a puritanical Sunni sub-sect) faction of JUI. Rigged elections in 2002 saw the MMA gain control of the North-West Frontier Province and become the main coalition partner of Musharraf’s party in Balochistan. In NWFP, in particular, the MMA pursued extensive Islamization policies, while at the same time voting for Musharraf’s substantial constitutional amendments and his continuation as president. Musharraf’s courtship of the religious right for political ends allowed Islamist parties an unprecedented level of political influence, allowing it to derail several intended reforms.

Further, their association with jihadi groups continued to grow. In fact, according to the International Crisis Group, JI madrasas “have long maintained links with jihadi organizations” and Fazlur Rehman’s party “made no attempt [when it was in power] to hide its support for the Afghan Taliban with JUI-F madrasas recruiting and training Afghan and Pakistani Pashtuns for the Taliban.”

In addition to military patronage, particular Islamist parties such as the JI have been able to sustain their influence because of their robust internal organization. For example, JI’s notorious student wing, the Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba – which has a strong presence in mainstream universities and high schools – as well as the group’s vast network of madrassas, provide the party with its significant street power. This is underpinned by strong relations between the party base and its leadership, a characteristic that is sorely lacking within the ranks of the PPP and PML-N.

The JI-led street demonstrations are, at the very least, extremely disruptive, especially in major urban centers such as Karachi, and have the ability to derail reform efforts. The secular parties, despite their strength at the ballot box, have been reluctant to roll back the blasphemy law and other discriminatory legislation for fear of a backlash from the religious right.

The threat to stability posed by the religious right is not, however, restricted to violent street protests. Indeed, a dangerous by-product of the blasphemy and anti-Ahmadi laws – which are based on orthodox Sunni interpretations of Islam – is that they have encouraged religious and sectarian extremism. According to the defense publication Jane’s, “these laws, and the general climate they create, provide fertile turf for radical sectarian groups like the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, Jundallah, Jaish-e-Mohammad and others.” Inter-sect violence in the form of attacks on Shias by radical Deobandis comprise the bulk of terrorist incidents in Pakistan, followed by intra-sect hostility in the form of targeted killings of Ahmadis and, to a lesser extent, Barelvis, a rival Sunni sub-sect.

Regardless of how Asia Bibi’s case plays out, unless the blasphemy and other such discriminatory laws are repealed, the religious right will continue exploit them to advance a narrow ideological agenda. Indeed, a holistic appreciation of Pakistan’s extremist threat is incomplete without understanding the impact of Islamist parties on the country’s complex religious landscape and polity.

Source: Asia Sentinel

December 17, 2010

WASHINGTON DIARY: We hypocritical Muslims —by Dr Manzur Ejaz

by admin

Aasia Bibi’s case does not make much sense. Having lived with many rural Christians — who are mostly very poor and are considered untouchables — I know that these poor souls are incapable of committing the crimes they are accused of. Most of the time, the grudging ‘Muslim masters’ register such cases to punish them for disobeying or refusing to do free work.

Muslims have convinced themselves that they are super-humans. They believe that the world should be very attentive to the Muslims’ religious and cultural sensitivities while they can persecute any minority

    Related Articles:

      On an international level, people from every religion exchange greeting cards to commemorate different occasions. We all know that most of these cards are meant for the wastebasket. What if a Christian or Jew saw a Muslim salesperson throwing his card with Jesus or Moses’ name on it and called the police to register a case of blasphemy against him/her and the police arrested the violator? Most western readers would laugh out loud at this unlikely scenario but it is not a laughing matter for a physician from Hyderabad, Pakistan, who, unwittingly, threw a Muslim’s visiting card in the trash basket. He apologised to the offended party and yet the police arrested him under pressure from religious fanatics.

      The manner in which the religious parties are campaigning for Aasia Bibi’s hanging has given me many nightmares while living in the US capital. What if the Bible belt of the southern states in the US became as influential as the religious parties in Pakistan? The US Congress and Senate would add a constitutional amendment on blasphemy laws according to which anyone who believes in any prophet after Jesus would be sentenced to death. Under pressure from Washington, most European and South American countries and those with majority Christian populations would follow suit in making the Christian blasphemy law. Hindus, Buddhists and people of other religions would also be forced to pass such laws. What kind of world would we live in if all that should take place?

      Whatever happens, the Blasphemy Law will be fully operational against Muslims because they were the ones who set the precedent. This means that the millions of Muslims living in non-Islamic countries would face persecution and may even be led to the gallows. Fundamentalists and extremists of every religion will justify Muslim persecution on the basis of their belief in a prophet who came after Jesus and other prophets and the way the people believing in this religion have been targeting Christians and other minorities in their own countries.

      Lucky for the Muslims living in the US and other non-Islamic countries that no nation has blasphemy laws and Muslims can throw any greeting card in the wastebasket or even openly put down other religions without fear of reprisal. Of course, after 9/11, Muslims may be screened more at airports. Even the Indian ambassador to Washington, Ms Meera Shankar, was put through a body search for which India has lodged a strong protest with the US. One can see regular white Americans also being humbled at airports. Therefore, discrimination is there but Muslims never realise that they have worse practices in their own countries. They do not see a connection between the liberties they enjoy abroad in contrast to the persecution of minorities in their homelands.

      Furthermore, Muslims in the US and other European countries are not taking discrimination lying down; they are fighting for their equal rights. Nowadays, US-based Muslim organisations are campaigning for the US government to allow them to send zakat money to other countries. The US put many restrictions on such charities under the pretext that such money is being used to fund Muslim terrorist organisations. The point is that Muslim organisations can challenge such laws publicly despite American sensitivity about the role of charitable organisations in funding jihad.

      While Muslims enjoy such liberties in the western world, they are intolerant towards minorities in their own countries. Religious parties take the most hypocritical positions at home and abroad. They agitate for equal rights in the west and demonstrate to maintain the Blasphemy Law and hang a poor rural Christian like Aasia Bibi in Pakistan. Religious parties want democratic freedom when it comes to their own interests but become fascists when it is someone else’s right. For example, the Jamaat-e-Islami wants pure democracy and transparency in the country but in institutions under their control, like the Punjab University, they become a corrupt, tyrannical force. A similar pattern is repeated wherever religious parties gain control, be it in FATA or an educational institution.

      Aasia Bibi’s case does not make much sense. Having lived with many rural Christians — who are mostly very poor and are considered untouchables — I know that these poor souls are incapable of committing the crimes they are accused of. Most of the time, the grudging ‘Muslim masters’ register such cases to punish them for disobeying or refusing to do free work. Muslim organisations are up in arms to free Aafia Siddiqui for violating US laws but show no compassion for Aasia Bibi. Obviously, this is a crude example of double standards.

      Somehow, Muslims have convinced themselves that they are super-humans. They believe that the world should be very attentive to the Muslims’ religious and cultural sensitivities while they can persecute any minority. Religious minorities are persecuted in other countries as well (Christian persecution in India is widespread). However, the difference is that, unlike India and other countries, Pakistan’s constitution provides the grounds for minority discrimination. The Blasphemy Law has become a tool and rallying point for religious organisations for their continuous domination of the political space.

      Presently, the religious parties are using the Blasphemy Law for a proxy war. The support for religious causes has been going down because of terrorist acts by the Taliban and other jihadi groups. Therefore, the campaign for the preservation of the Blasphemy Law is being deployed to regain lost ground and to keep their monopoly over the ideological discourse. Actually, this is a smokescreen to defend the Taliban and other jihadis and provide the ideological basis for the continuation of terrorism.

      The mainstream parties are either spineless or secretly in agreement with the mullahs. Different levels of administration, security agencies and even some courts are not enlightened enough to understand the negative impact of such discriminatory practices.

      While having laws like blasphemy and indulging in the persecution of poor minorities, Pakistan is never going to be a respectable country in the world community. Which foreign business will invest in Pakistan if they fear that the mistake of throwing away a business card can cost them their lives? However, the religious monopoly over the ideological discourse and madness is going to dominate the country until a counter-movement takes shape.

      Source: Daily Times

      December 16, 2010

      Blasphemy law, extremists' reaction and life threatening comments

      by admin
        Related Articles:

      Jamaat-ud-Daawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed on Thursday made his first public appearance in Islamabad and supports blasphemy laws. He shared the stage with Ch Shujaat Hussain, Ijaz-ul-Haq and PML-N's representative Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry.

      It potentials to be a dangerous and threatening Christmas for the Christian community in Pakistan. A radical alliance – which includes Pakistan Muslim Leagues, religious political parties allied with banned militant groups – has called a large mass national demonstration entitled Namos-e-risalat, that is, defending the honour of the Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) on 24 December, after Friday prayers, to say “no” to the release of Asia Bibi and any changes to the blasphemy law. Even JuD chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed attended the meeting. Addressing the gathering, Saeed stressed the need for a well-organised media campaign in favour of the blasphemy law.

      The alliance has called on the “ummah” (Islamic community) in all the world, demanding universal support in the defence of the blasphemy law. Moreover, the radical leaders say: “Asia Bibi is a blasphemous woman and should be repudiated by Christians. Anyone who defends her, an ordinary citizen, politician or Minister, is guilty of blasphemy along with her.”

      A pretty naked threat from extremist lobby will also put pressure on the PPP led civilian government as well as on Parliament, which in those days could examine the parliamentary motion presented by PPP’s lawmaker Ms Sherry Rehman, who is proposing substantial changes to the blasphemy law.

      President Asif Ali Zardari has also desired that the blasphemy law be reviewed and necessary action taken, said a minority member of the Sindh Assembly at a meeting on Saturday. Jamaat e Islami (JI), right wing religious party which last week announced countrywide protests against any attempt to amend the blasphemy law, mounted a sit-in demonstration near parliament in Islamabad Sunday to make its point, along with broader calls for the government to abandon its alliance with the United States. 

      JI chief Munawar Hasan earlier told Pakistani reporters the government had to decide whether it stood with Muslims or with “the blasphemers.” Other Islamist groups have also threatened violent consequences should Bibi be pardoned. The recent decision was announced by JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman at a news conference on the conclusion of the daylong Tahaffuz-i-Nabuwat Conference which was attended by top leadership of Jamaat-i-Islami, PML-Q and Jamaatud Dawa and representatives of Wafaqul Madaris and many other smaller religious organisations and groups. Maulana Fazl said that all religious parties were united on the issue. He vowed to resist any move by the government to make changes in the existing blasphemy law.

      The JUI-F chief, who presided over the conference, said all the mosques in the country would organise protest demonstrations on Dec 24 after Friday prayers. He said a big public meeting and protest demonstration would be held in Karachi on Jan 9, which would be attended by all central leaders of religious parties. He said an action plan would also be unveiled at the meeting. He announced that former MNA Dr Abul Khair Mohammad Zubair had been made chairman of Tehrik-i-Namoos-i-Risalat committee with an aim to organise the movement at grassroots level. Maulana Fazlur Rehman made an appeal to traders’ organisations and associations of small and big markets to extend their support to the movement and make the shutter-down strike a success. He said that their protest would be so forceful that no one would dare to think about changing the blasphemy law.

      Earlier, during the conference, PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain declared that his party would oppose every move to change the blasphemy law in the Parliament.

      JI chief Munawar Hassan said it was wrong to say that the blasphemy law had affected only minorities in the country. Qazi Hussain Ahmed suggested that the present movement should at the later stage be converted into a movement for the enforcement of Islamic system in the country.

      PML-N’s MNA from Islamabad Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry also attended the conference.

      The conference was also attended by Hafiz Saeed of Jamaatud Dawa, Maulana Abdul Majeed Ludhianvi of Majlis Tahaffuz-i-Khatam Nabuwat, Qari Hanif Jalandhary and Dr Abdul Razzaq Sikandar of Wafaqul Madaris, Hafiz Aakif Saeed of Tanzim Islami, Maulana Abdul Aziz of Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadith and Allama Sajid Naqvi.

      Still, the life of Asia Bibi, a mother of five is in danger. A extremist religious cleric has offered 500,000 rupees — roughly $5,800 — to anyone who kills the jailed Aasia Bibi, who is being held in the district jail in the city of Sheikhupura.

      The Taliban also have threatened retribution should she be spared, yet another sign the case has become a rallying point. He also warned the government not to tamper with blasphemy laws which he said protect Prophet Mohammed(PBUH)’s “sanctity.”

      Within 24 hours of the Taliban warning, Asia Bibi’s frightened family fled their home in the Christian colony of Gloria in Sheikhupura, a 90-minute drive from Lahore.

      Ashiq Masih, Asia Bibi’s husband said “Even if my wife does come out [of jail], she could be killed,” he said, adding that her case is not the first of its kind.

      “And it’s not just Christians who are targeted. Muslims have also been charged with blasphemy. Christians are easy to implicate, though. If they talk about religion, they are accused of blasphemy. If a Christian touches the Holy Quran, he is accused of a crime. And here, petty issues get twisted into accusations of blasphemy,” Masih said.

      Governor of the Punjab Salmaan Taseer has earned the acrimony & indignation of religious extremists for defending Asia Bibi as a poor Christian woman who should never have been charged and should be pardoned. He’s calling for amendments to the country’s strict blasphemy laws. He infect also served propel and stimulate what has become Pakistan’s first public flurrying and sensitive debate over the blasphemy law when he visited Asia Bibi in jail last month and later told President Asif Ali Zardari she deserved clemency.

      “Before this, nobody was prepared to discuss this law. It will set the mullahs at your throat. And I said that she should be pardoned, and this is a travesty and shame that a poor woman like this who hasn’t the means to defend herself [against] trumped-up charges,” said Taseer, who is Muslim. “And in a country where your prime minister is Muslim, your president is Muslim, you’re 95 percent Muslim — what is the need for laws like this?”

      At a seminar titled ‘Protection of the blasphemy law and its importance’, Justice (r) Mian Nazeer Akhtar said Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer was also a blasphemer for he was protecting those who indulged in blasphemy.

      The Rev Samson Dilawar, a parish priest who was wounded by gunmen in 1997 and saw his Catholic church burned to the ground in 2005, has been threatened by anonymous callers for assisting Asia Bibi.

      Surly, such recommendations and amendments risk serious counter blow and retribution. But human right campaigners and intellectuals are suggesting that oscillating and vacillating in the face of a ultraconservative and zealot retro-action would tarnish and vitiate Pakistan’s image even more.

      LUBP is the only blog that has been continously writing against the blasphemy laws and highlighting events of religious persecution. Due to our bold stance against terrorism and extremism we have been continuously receiving threats and abuses from the extremist forces some of them threatening our very lives. Here are some extremely hateful, violent and life threatening comments extremists have made toward Aasia Bibi at LUBP’s Articles:

      My heart is full of anger due to this issue if it would possible for me to kill this bitch aasiya i am ready to do that I have no fear of my own assassination.

      (faizeraza.com abulakber@gmail.com 203.81.218.27)

      Mr.ali aap ki baat say hum sub bilkul mutaffiq hain her musalman k jazbaat aisay hi honay chahyey jo zuban meray aaqa sallallaho alaihe wasallam ki shaan main koi nazeba jumlay kahay us zaban ko hamesha k liay bund kar dia jai batla do hur dushman e din ko ghairat e muslim zinda hai oon pay mar mitnay ka jazba kal bhi tha aur aaj bhi hai

      ………..
      savehumanity.com

      shahzada1974@yahoo.com

      203.81.218.27 IP address [?]: 203.81.218.27 [Whois] [Reverse IP] IP country code: PK IP address country: Pakistan IP address state: Sindh IP address city: Karachi IP address latitude: 24.8667 IP address longitude: 67.0500 ISP of this IP [?]: WorldCALL Multimedia Ltd Organization: WorldCALL Multimedia Ltd Host of this IP: [?]:

      host27-218.worldcall.net.pk [Whois] [Trace] Local time in Pakistan: 2010-12-15 13:02

      Yeh saza ki haqdaar hai aur iske sath sath yeh zardari jo uski appeal per court ka faisla rad krne chla aur uske pithoo ppp k tmam rehnuma jnhon ne is jurm ka irtkab krne wale ka sath dia in sab ko saza milni chahea aur inhe saray bazar sir dhar se alag kr dna chahea. jo yeh baat krte hain k hm ne is mulk ko constitution dia aj wohi is constitution mai tabdeeli kr rhe hain aur woh bhe aik pop k kehne per kia hukumat itna bhe nahe kr skti aik christian k lea sb jo yeh insaniyat ka maamla dkhta hai aur us aafia siddique k lea in begherton ko insaniyat yaad nahe aty jb k woh bekasoor hai zardari aur ppp k rehnumaon aur pakistan ki dusri parties k rehnumao Allah tmhe nist naboot kre aur jahanum raseed kre tm nabi meharbaan (s.a.w) k mujrim ho tmhe allah akhrat mai to saza dyga aur inshallah tmhe dunia mai bhe gharat krega

      (kanwardaniyal@ymail.com)

      کاشف نصیر says:
      December 11, 2010 at 3:10 pm

      اگر ہائی کورٹ نے مبینہ ملعونہ کی سزا براقرار رکھی اور زرداری نے اس کو آئنی پاکستان کی ایک غیر امتیازی شق کے تحط معاف کردیا اور رہا کرنے کا حکم جاری کیا تو میں کاشف نصیر اعلان کرتا ہوں کہ اس ملعونہ میں دھونڈ کے قتل کردوں گا۔ اب جو کرنا ہے کرلو! اور ہاں میں کوئی ملا نہیں اور نہ ہی میں نے ڈاڑھی بڑھائی ہوئی ہے! میں یہ کام کرکے علامہ اقبال کی نصیحت پر عمل کروں گا، یہ نصیحت علامہ اقبال نے غازی علم دین شہید اور غازی عبدل قیوم شہید کے حوالے سے کی ضرب کلیم کی نظم کراچی اور لاہور میں کی تھی

      Salman Taseer is son of a xxxx,
      she has to be killed….
      If i’ll get a chance i’ll kill her its a pleasure for me…
      and how ever killed her will get heaven in reward…

      …………..

      Editor’s Warning: The commentator appears to be an operative of the Taliban / Sipah-e-Sahaba. His details are being provided below:

      IP address: 61.5.131.230
      IP country code: PK
      IP address country: Pakistan
      IP address city: Karachi
      IP address latitude: 24.8667
      IP address longitude: 67.0500
      ISP of this IP [?]: CYBER INTERNET SERVICES (PVT.) LTD.
      Organization: CYBER INTERNET SERVICES (PVT.) LTD.
      Local time in Pakistan: 2010-11-26 11:53

      December 14, 2010

      What Maulana Fazlur Rehman has on the cards – by Ali Arqam

      by admin

      Maulana Fazlur Rehman to the press, Courtesy ET

      In a dramatic set of events on the very fateful day of 14th December, Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) broke away from the federal coalition over the government’s decision to sack the Federal Science and Technology Minister Azam Swati without taking the JUI-F into confidence.

      Maulana Fazlur Rehman had some more charges against the federal government. But all the charges before the recent one did not make him part ways with the government.(source)

      The Maulana has in the past opposed the PPP government’s decision of military operations against the militant outfits as they have considerably strong influence in various militant outfits of the Deobandi sect. Maulana Fazlur Rehman also offered mediation between the Government and the Taliban, although it seems far-fetched as both parties, Taliban in particular, are skeptical of Maulana Fazlur Rehman.

      The Pakistani Taliban (TTP) is a loosely bonded group of various splinter cells of militants. They pose as united for their fierce image, impact and also to attract new recruits. Maulana is not popular among all of them, as leaders of the TTP Swat chapter, Fazlullah and Shah Doran, had shown their disgust for him in their propaganda speeches on the infamous FM radio.

      In early 2008, a rocket was fired on Maulana’s residence in DI Khan, and intelligence agencies have reported threats to his life.

      Another leader of the JUI, Maulana Muhammad Khan Sherani (recently appointed chairman CII), has narrowly escaped at least two attacks by the Taliban.

      JUI knows it better. Therefore while they always issued statements against the military operations to appease the conservative voters they never put significant steps in opposing the military operations.

      Maulana on various occasions has expressed his displeasure over the government’s ‘evading tactics’ on Islamic laws. It seems strange that an anti-secular party is expecting PPP to make Islamic laws. However, everything is fair in the game of political alliances or smart politics.

      JUI strongly protested on the death of Maulana Ameen in an Air Strike by Pakistan armed forces on a Madrassah at Orakzai while they have targeted militant hideouts in the agency. Though it was not an enough reason to break up with the Government to record protest.

      Maulana Fazlur Rehman had strong reservations on the recent debate over blasphemy laws by various sections of society, PPP representatives, Governor Punjab and social activists. But he was waiting for the issue to be unfolded, and refrained from overstepping the issue.

      Here comes the Hajj Scam (as media has given it the title), the unpleasant exchange of public remarks between two member of the federal cabinet, Azam Swati of JUI(F) and Hamid Saeed Kazmi of PPP, resulting in sacking of both by the Prime Minister.

      And Maulana came with a harsh reaction to say good bye to the coalition. The decision is surprising for all, from politicians to media TV anchors. It has fuelled the rumour mills and boosted the morale of the analysts who were tired of issuing forecasts for the fall of the government and renewing the deadlines every time.

      Maulana got a relatively sizeable chunk of attractive posts and ministries in the Government compared to his strength in the Parliament; recently the long awaited CII chairmanship demand has been fulfilled.

      Then what does the Maulana want?

      -Image building exercise after the WikiLeaks

      - Evading support of the RGST in the parliament, though it does not seem a big deal

      - Getting some more undisclosed demands to be fulfilled as the previous record shows

      - Winds of change from the holy land, Tehrik Nizam-e-Mustafa 3.0

      -  Revival of MMA 2.0

      Let us wait and see, or you are free to draw conclusions of your own…

      December 13, 2010

      ‘President wants blasphemy law reviewed’

      by admin

    • KARACHI: President Asif Ali Zardari has desired that the blasphemy law be reviewed and necessary action taken, said a minority member of the Sindh Assembly at a meeting on Saturday.

      MPA Pitanbar Sewani, speaking at the meeting on ‘Communities vulnerable because of their beliefs’, organised by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, said the president had responded to a point raised by him during a meeting held at the Sindh Chief Minister’s House.

      He said he had raised the issue with the president that the blasphemy law was being misused and was a cause of harassment to the minorities and that it might be amended.

      He said the president said: “The federal government may examine it and take necessary action.” And that action on this was to be taken by the federal law minister.

      Mr Sewani also circulated a copy of the minutes of the meeting issued by Mohammad Ishaque Lashari of the President’s Secretariat (Public) at Aiwan-i-Sadar, Islamabad.

      Earlier, I. A. Rehman of the HRCP said that though the HRCP issued a report regarding the status of human rights – which also covered the issues related to the minorities — in the country every year, it was being felt that the issues were of grave nature and could not be fully covered in just a portion of a report, so it was decided that a separate report regarding the status of the minorities in the country would also be published.

      He said a series of meetings were being organised where minority communities were invited to discuss their issues and after this process was completed, a report would be prepared that would depict the picture of the minorities in the country.

      Minority MPA Saleem Khokhar said at the meeting that under the separate electorates the minority representatives had to contest elections so they took care of their electorate, knowing that he would have to go to them again in next polls. But now under the joint electorate system, the political party chief had the power to nominate anybody he liked.

      So if he selected his peon and nominated him for the seat, he would become a parliamentarian.

      He said a major drawback of this system was that in many cases the voters did not know their representative and the parliamentarian might also not be paying due attention to the electorate, knowing that he had become a parliamentarian because of his party chief’s blessing and not because of his voters’ wishes.

      Other speakers raised the issue of forced conversion of minor girls and their marriage with Muslim boys. They demanded that in case of minors, they be reunited with the families till their adulthood and if they still wanted to convert, they be allowed to do so. They said more than 45 Hindu girls had been forcibly converted in Sindh in the past couple of years.

      They demanded that the Minorities Commission, working under the federal Social Welfare Ministry, be abolished and an autonomous and financially independent commission, which should be a statutory body, be constituted. And it should have the powers to receive complaints, investigate them, give recommendations on laws, and should present its report to parliament annually.

      Stressing curriculum reforms, they demanded that textbooks be free from portraying the superiority of one community to another, and if the injecting of religious teachings was necessary, it should comprise tolerant sections from each religion preaching peaceful coexistence of all people in society.

      They alleged that the ruling party in Punjab was showing sympathy to and alliance with a hate campaign launched by some religious groups against the Ahmadis, and attacks against that community were on the rise. They said till the time laws were reviewed/ changed, the situation could be improved through administrative orders.

      They also expressed concern over a stay granted by a Lahore court as the petitioner feared that the president might grant pardon to a Christian woman convicted of blasphemy. They said the government and the judiciary should not succumb to the wishes of extremist views held by a small number of people.

      A speaker alleged that when he had applied for a job in an Atomic Energy Commission institute at Tando Jam, he was told that non-Muslims were not recruited in the institute.
      A speaker said that though a five per cent employment quota was allocated for the minorities, it was not being implemented judiciously. Most minority members were recruited for low-level jobs such as sanitary workers, peons, etc. They demanded that the implementation of the quota be made compulsory in every grade.

      They also urged the media to accommodate liberal religious scholars in their talk shows.

      Ghazi Salahuddin, Roland deSouza, Asad Iqbal, Dr Sabir Michael, Shamsher Ali, Kalpana Devi, Munawwar Shahid, Kersasp Shekhdar, Rochiram, Badar Soomro, and others also spoke.

      Source: DAWN

      December 13, 2010

      Blasphemy cases: False accusers escape punishment

      by admin

      Related Article:

      Shia physician charged with blasphemy in Hyderabad Sindh

      The impact of blasphemy laws on human rights

      LAHORE: A number of blasphemy cases continue to be registered against innocent people out of personal vendetta, yet routinely no action is taken against complainants whose accusations prove to be false after due investigations.

      The incidence of implicating innocent people under blasphemy laws is much higher in Punjab than the rest of the country.

      Astonishingly, 801 of the 1,031 people imprisoned under these laws are Muslim. Of the remaining 230 prisoners 162 are Christians, 15 are Sikh, 28 are Buddhists while 25 persons are adherents of other faiths.

      Currently, a total of 130 people are facing blasphemy charges in various prisons across Punjab, including 122 Muslims and eight Christians.

      Official data obtained by The Express Tribune shows that at least 232 people were freed from 32 jails in the province because of lack of evidence and as many as 554 people were out on bail because of an “out-of-court settlement” – a recourse unavailable to such accused. Of the total, cases against 339 were dropped, 13 died in jails of natural causes, one detainee committed suicide in jail, one was murdered in jail while two prisoners were murdered outside jails.

      Only one under trial prisoner detained in district jail Lahore Under Section 295, 20 under-trial prisoners detained in six prisons in Punjab, including 12 prisoners only in Central Jail, Faisalabad, under Section 295-A, 40 under-trial prisoners detained in 17 jails across Punjab under Section 295-B while there are only 17 under-trail prisoners in eight jails.

      As many as five prisoners have been convicted under Section 295-A, 22 convicted under Section 295-B, 26 under Section 295-C while only nine prisoners have been sentenced to death.

      Blasphemy laws were introduced by General Ziaul Haq in 1986. Before these laws were introduced, only one person was booked Under Section 295 in 38 years between 1947 and 1985 in the district jail of Lahore.

      Over the next 24 years, 1,030 people were booked under blasphemy laws.

      Published in The Express Tribune, December 13th, 2010.

      December 12, 2010

      Pakistan's Institutionalized Discrimination Against Religious Minorities -by Rebecca Buckwalter Poza

      by admin


      In June 2009, a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, brought water to Muslim women working in a field with her. They rejected the water because a non-Muslim had touched it, and an argument ensued. In the aftermath of what should have been a minor incident, the leader of the local mosque accused Asia of blaspheming against Islam — a charge she denies. She was arrested for violating Pakistan’s archaic and overtly discriminatory blasphemy laws and sentenced to death in a trial in which Christian witnesses were not allowed to testify by a judge who refused to consider any possibility that Asia had not blasphemed. Although she has ostensibly been pardoned, influential Muslim extremists are calling for her death and offering rewards of nearly $6,000 USD for her assassination.

      In Pakistan, blasphemy is punishable by death, and desecration of the Holy Quran carries a life sentence. Introduced in 1885, these laws are a British colonial legacy conceived of as a form of early anti-hate crime legislation — the intent was to prevent the instigation of religious conflict. In 1927, they became part of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) in Section 295. The law protected all religious groups until 1982, when then-General Zia ul Haq introduced clause 295-B outlawing the desecration of the Holy Quran at the behest of extreme Islamist groups. In 1986, he added 295-C banning defilement of the name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad. These laws have been widelyabused as a means of discriminating against and persecuting religious minorities. In 1993, 295-C was extended to apply to “defiling of the Prophet’s family and companions.” According to datacollected by the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), at least 964 persons were charged under these anti-blasphemy clauses from 1986 to August 2009, while more than 30 persons were killed extra-judicially by the angry mob or by individuals.

      The blasphemy law is only one of many institutionalized forms of religious discrimination in Pakistan. The Constitution declares Islam Pakistan’s official religion and states that sovereignty belongs to Allah, effectively willing powers of legislation and legal interpretation to the Muslim clergy. Provisions of the Constitution, including Articles 227, 228, and 229, require that all laws be interpreted in the light of the Quran and that “laws shall be brought in conformity with the Injunctions of Islam as laid down in the Quran and Sunnah.”

      Throughout Pakistan, members of religious minorities — Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Jews, Ahmedis, and Buddhists, among others — encounter discrimination, oppression, and abuse at the hands of both state and non-state actors. These men, women, and children are systematically politically, socially, and economically disenfranchised. Members of these minorities are also targeted as victims of random violence, sexual assault, abduction, forced conversion and marriage, and otherforms of assault on the basis of small infractions or perceived slights. Their legal rights and protections are tenuous at best. Muslims are able to coerce members of religious minorities and even entire communities with threats of groundless legal accusations — for example, forcing individuals not to report crimes and making communities abandon land.

      Increasingly, Muslim men and communities abduct women and girls from religious minorities to force them into religious conversion and marriage. Under the Pakistan Muslim Family Law Ordinance of 1961, a girl must be at least 16 and a boy at least 18 before they marry, and both must consent. Police are required by law to investigate the ages of those entering into a marriage following the complaint of a parent. Moreover, the Contract Act of 1872 invalidates contracts whose signatories are younger than 18. Yet police often refuse to investigate or prosecute these crimes when a madrassa or Muslim cleric is involved.

      The social and economic conditions faced by women of religious minorities are particularlyinhumane, despite Pakistan’s ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). In urban areas, women from religious minorities can only find work as scavengers or in sanitation and receive unlivable wages — less than $12 USD per month. Recent surveys have revealed that nearly 9 in 10 scheduled caste Hindu women (87 percent) were illiterate — as compared to 63.5 percent of males of their community — while the national illiteracy rate among Pakistani women is 58 percent. A nearly 40-point gap between the primary school enrollment rate of lower-caste women (10.2 percent of whom enroll) and the national rate for women (48 percent) exposes disparities in access to education.

      Pakistan has legislation nominally guaranteeing religious freedoms, however, the government has not guaranteed the exercise of these basic rights or established protections and security for minorities. Article 20 of the Constitution refers to each citizen’s freedom “to profess religion and to manage religious institutions.” Article 33 charges the state with the responsibility to “discourage parochial, racial, tribal, sectarian and provincial prejudices among the citizens,” while Article 36 ensures that the state “shall safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of minorities.” However, at the local and regional levels, illegal actions against religious minorities go unpunished and thus continue to propagate. Fear of reprisal keeps many victims from reporting abuses, while those who do report incidents see their allegations dismissed or inadequately investigated.

      Pakistan must review its legal provisions and implement existing legislation to ensure all individuals’ rights to freedoms of thought, conscience and religion — as enshrined in Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), of which it is a signatory. The state has to amend or revoke laws like those contained in Section 295 and the Constitutional provisions that permit and perpetuate discrimination. Further, from the local to the national level, members of the public and state officials must push police and prosecutors to proactively identify, investigate, and punish crimes against religious minorities.

      Formal statements by government actors in support of religious tolerance and equality would challenge the belief that all officials condone discrimination, harassment, and violence against religious minorities. To address the underlying socio-economic inequality contributing to the disenfranchisement and subjugation of religious minorities in Pakistan, the state should supportprograms promoting the education of religious minority girls, the restoration of health facilities in predominately minority areas, and the provision of micro-credit loans to entrepreneurs to encourage their empowerment. Moreover, it is imperative that Pakistan ban bonded labor, which leaves women and children especially vulnerable to exploitation by employers. With respect to the marginalization and mistreatment of religious minorities, what Pakistan lacks is not a legal framework but genuine political will.

      Source: The Huffington Post

      December 11, 2010

      Laws that insult reason and justice -by Peter Jacob

      by admin

      The point that our religious parties seem to ignore is that the fault lies within the content and intent of the blasphemy laws themselves. The assumptions and the very scheme of these laws are manifested to be at cross-purposes with justice and the rights of the citizens.


      After a considerable wait for some initiative on the part of the parliamentary sub-committee reviewing blasphemy laws and the concerned ministries, Sherry Rehman moved a bill in parliament on November 24, 2010. Unlike the bill she moved against the Hudood Ordinances during her previous tenure as a member of the National Assembly (MNA), the current bill does not seek to repeal the five sections of the Pakistan Penal Code known as the blasphemy laws. It rather outlines some safeguards to stop the abuse of law and religion. Therefore, the bill proposed 12 amendments in both the Pakistan Penal Code as well as Criminal Procedure Code.

      It is not known so far when parliament will discuss the bill, which will largely depend on the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leadership having enough courage to do so. Tabling of the bill is nevertheless a breakthrough that the government can rely upon. Especially, the credentials of the mover of the bill as a principled, independent and conscientious voice can help the treasury if they decide to make any meaningful progress on this highly important issue.

      The leadership of the ruling parties in Punjab and the Centre neither took a position in favour nor against the bill but some ministers and parliamentarians from different parties expressed their support for and against any amendment to the blasphemy laws. Importantly, civil society organisations and media have begun to take the issue to the common people, while certain religious organisations have taken a tough position against any amendment, as expected.

      Well-meaning and courageous people who dare to ask for the blasphemy laws to be repealed or changed are met with accusations of themselves being guilty of committing blasphemy, something the government should have taken notice of because then there will be no discussion. Branding the demand for repeal ‘sacrilegious’, religious outfits forced some campaigners to limit their argument even around the misuse of the law, let alone taking a position on an inherently bad piece of legislation.

      The point that our religious parties seem to ignore is that the fault lies within the content and intent of the blasphemy laws themselves. The assumptions and the very scheme of these laws are manifested to be at cross-purposes with justice and the rights of the citizens. The manner in which sections 295B and 295C, 298A, 298B and 298C were inducted in the Pakistan Penal Code also shows that the result could not have been different. Talking about the text first, the formulation and the content of the above-mentioned sections violate four major safeguards in criminal justice, i.e. not guilty until proven, clarity in law, the verifiable element of intent in a crime and parity of citizens before the law. On the contrary, the law is framed with the corresponding faulty assumptions.

      The first assumption is that the offence is committed already and it merely needs to be punished, hence no safeguards were considered necessary by General Ziaul Haq’s draftsmen while making these extraordinary amendments in the law, whereas criminal law around the world has inbuilt verification methods and procedures for such exceptional legislation. These laws create and nurture a mindset of religious insecurity, ignorance and self-righteousness that facilitates a primitive practice of crime in the name of religion. Thus the procedural amendment, about investigation by a high ranking police official in 2004, failed to yield any results in the area of application of the law.

      The second assumption is that the offence is well defined, therefore there is no need to define what constitutes the offence of insult. These sections speak only about the mode and manner the supposed insult could be offered and do not define what constitutes the offence of insult. The very draft of the blasphemy laws ignores that the concept of insult and respect varies from person to person, culture to culture, and from one social group to the other. This lacuna could not have brought a result any different from what we see. True that the civil law defines defamation and insult, but that is civil law, which does not carry heavy penalties like a number of years of imprisonment and capital punishment. Moreover, civil law does not deal with a matter as sensitive as offences relating to religion.

      The third assumption is that the faith of an overwhelming majority in the country needs protection of the law against any possible insult while the religious minorities can do without it. Not that other faith groups need similar laws but the blasphemy laws failed to see that the country had other faith groups who do not subscribe to the religion under question, hence the other faiths needed to be treated as an exception. Some Islamic scholars categorically pointed out the irrationality of application of the blasphemy laws on non-Muslims.

      It is very clear that you cannot have an ambiguous and illogical text of a law and not have problems with justice and application of the law. The blasphemy laws became a tool for hate crimes and incitement. With these laws in place, the people of Pakistan cannot see an end to their worries regarding religious intolerance because injustices under and by the law perpetuate and form a legacy that is harder to remove.

      Blasphemy, gustakhi and shutm, all three are borrowed terms. The Penal Code of Pakistan calls this chapter ‘Offences relating to religion’. Not all sections of the chapter but only sections 295B and 295C, 298A, 298B and 298C, qualify to be termed ‘blasphemy laws’ because they are religion-specific and the penalties surpass far beyond the damage of the supposed crime, i.e. ‘hurting the feelings’ of citizens.

      It is important to note that four out of five additions to the penal code came through presidential ordinances of a martial law administrator — later validated through the 8th Amendment to the constitution that legitimised General Ziaul Haq’s illegal rule and actions; hence this whole process was thoroughly undemocratic. However, the sequence of their introduction to the law itself is revealing.

      The first induction was section 298A in 1980 that sought to punish any derogatory remarks against any wife (ummul momineen), members of family (ahle-e-bait), first four caliphs (khulfa-e-rashideen) or companions (sahaba) of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) with three years of imprisonment and fine or both. This section, prima facie, aims to deal with inter-sectarian issues and hate speech. However, 1980 was the year when Zia planted militant sectarian organisations of Sunni background after a reaction from the Shia community against the Zakat and Ushr Ordinance. The apparent intent of this law was contrary to his action. The Iranian Revolution was just one year old and the anxiety of the neighbouring dictatorship under Zia could be the reason for legislation on sectarian lines. The other noticeable aspect is that the Prophet Mohammad’s (PBUH) respect was not yet considered for legislation till this time, in fact his third year in power.

      The second induction was 295B in 1982 that dealt with the offence of defiling of the Holy Quran, which was punishable with a life sentence. There is no evidence that any situation demanded this law to be promulgated.

      Sections 298B and 298C came in 1984, which banned misuse of Islamic epithets, etc., reserved for Muslims and calling himself a Muslim or preaching or propagating his faith by any person belonging to the Ahmedi faith. These two amendments came in the 10th year after parliament lead by Mr Zulfikar Ali Bhutto declared Ahmedis non-Muslims. Zia wanted not only to appease certain clerics but also wanted to show that he could compete or rather go further than Bhutto in persecution of the Ahmedis. Majlis-e-Khatm-e-Nabuwat claimed these laws coming into existence as their victory later on, which means they must have made some contribution to this portion of the blasphemy laws.

      The most abused section, 295C, dealing with the use of derogatory remarks, etc., in respect of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), was the latest addition in 1986. While Mohammad Ismail Qureshi, a lawyer of Majlis-e-Khatm-e-Nabuwat claimed responsibility for the draft, a Jamat-e-Islami member of the National Assembly moved the bill in parliament. It carried the death sentence or life imprisonment as punishment. The Federal Shariat Court in 1991 cancelled the option of life imprisonment after a petition asking for the same.

      The people are made to believe that it is only section 295C that the clerics are trying to protect, whereas these laws incrementally inducted in the penal code show an irrational pattern and order as far as respect of the personage the laws sought to protect is concerned. If the Sharia was clear on the subject, why was it not known on the very first instance of legislation? Section 295C should have come first, not last.

      Dozens of innocent lives lost, properties looted, housed set alight, people displaced, uncalled for rigours of prolonged litigation and years of detention took place and thousands of people have suffered due to these laws. These incidents are blots on our justice system and conscience as a nation, something that the independent and free judiciary should look into, but not to the disadvantage of the already suffering masses.

      It is time that Pakistanis should move to ‘understand’ not only the laws and policies that govern them but also their consequences. The consequences that we have seen, over and over again, are in the form of religiously motivated lawlessness. True that the laws have had extremely adverse effects on religious minorities, but Muslims too have suffered under these laws in huge numbers. Can any democratically elected government allow citizens to be kept hostage to the whims of a handful of organisations trying to keep people blind to the facts in the name of faith? If so, can they even justify their claim about working to eliminate extremism from the country?

      The bill moved by Sherry Rehman has brought an opportunity to rationalise the blasphemy laws. The government and opposition parties can even try and improve the bill by their input in parliament. There is no doubt that the future of this bill holds the key not only to the environment of religious freedom for all citizens but also to the future of democratic development.

      Source: Daily Times

      December 9, 2010

      Supreme Court should respect the separation of powers enshrined in the constitution, International Crises Group

      by admin

      Belgium based ‘International Crisis Group’ asks for the repeal of all religiously discriminatory laws in Pakistan and recommends Western governments to bind this issue with Pakistan’s military aid.

      Report also recommends SC to take suo moto notice only on extreme cases of fundamental rights violations High courts shouldn’t have powers to take suo moto notice.

      In a report about “Reforming Pakistan’s Criminal Justice System,” the International Crisis Group urged the government of Pakistan to take immediate actions to reform the criminal justice system of the country.

      The ineffectiveness of Pakistan’s criminal justice system has serious repercussions for domestic, regional and international security. Given the gravity of internal security challenges, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)-led government, and the four provincial governments should make the reform of an anarchic criminal justice sector a top domestic priority.

      The latest report examines Pakistan’s criminal justice sector and urges the government to take immediate action for reform. Investigators are poorly trained, prosecutors fail to build strong cases that stand up in court, and there is a lack of access to basic data and modern tools. Moreover, corruption, intimidation and external interference, including by the military’s intelligence agencies, compromise cases before they even come to court. As a result, domestic stability is undermined, and the public’s confidence in the law is weakened.

      Report recommended To Pakistan’s Higher Judiciary :

      Shift the focus of the National Judicial Policy from short-term solutions for speedier delivery towards establishing a justice system that tackles the primary threats to internal stability and instills public confidence in the state.

      Circumscribe the doctrine of the constitution’s basic features by limiting it to amendments that negate the spirit of parliamentary democracy, judicial independence and federalism, and remove reference to Islamic provisions, given their vagueness.

      Respect the separation of powers enshrined in the constitution by:

      a) limiting the Supreme Court’s use of suo motu powers to extreme cases of fundamental rights violations;

      b) strictly interpreting Article 184 of the constitution to provide a clear definition of “public interest” that would prevent its broad use or abuse; and

      c) prohibiting the provincial high courts from taking suo motu action, in accordance with the constitution.

      18. Strike down all laws that discriminate on the basis of religion, sect and gender, as unconstitutional, if the government fails to repeal them.

      DETAIL REPORT:

      The ineffectiveness of Pakistan’s criminal justice system has serious repercussions for domestic, regional and international security. Given the gravity of internal security challenges, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)-led government in Islamabad, and the four provincial governments should make the reform of an anarchic criminal justice sector a top domestic priority.

      The low conviction rate, between 5 and 10 per cent at best, is unsurprising in a system where investigators are poorly trained and lack access to basic data and modern investigation tools. Prosecutors, also poorly trained, are not closely involved in investigations. Corruption, intimidation and external interference in trials, including by the military’s intelligence agencies, compromise cases before they even come to court. Given the absence of scientific evidence collection methods and credible witness protection programs, police and prosecutors rely mostly on confessions by the accused, which are inadmissible in court. Militants and other major criminals are regularly released on bail, or their trials persist for years even as they plan operations from prison. Terrorism cases, too, produce few convictions.

      The failure of prosecutors to achieve convictions in major cases, such as the June 2008 Danish embassy bombing, the September 2008 Marriott Hotel bombing in Islamabad, and the March 2009 attack on a police academy in Lahore, has weakened public confidence in the state’s ability to respond to terrorism. Despite the increasing urgency of reform, Pakistan’s police, and indeed the whole criminal justice system, still largely functions on the imperative of maintaining public order rather than tackling 21st century crime.

      A military-led counter-terrorism effort, defined by haphazard and heavy-handed force against some militant networks, short-sighted peace deals with others, and continued support to India and Afghanistan-oriented jihadi groups, has yielded few successes. Instead, the extremist rot has spread to most of the country. The military’s tactics of long-term detentions, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings provoke public resentment and greater instability, undermining the fight against violent extremism.

      Wresting civilian control over counter-terrorism policy, a key challenge of the current democratic transition, will require massive investments in police and prosecutors, specifically to enhance investigative capacity and case building. Successes in combating serious crime, including kidnappings-for-ransom and sectarian terrorism, during the democratic transition of the 1990s demonstrate that civilian law enforcement agencies can be effective when properly authorised and equipped. With the scale of violence far greater today, the government needs all the more to utilise political and fiscal capital to modernise the criminal justice sector.

      Criminal justice cannot, however, be isolated from the broader challenges of the democratic transition. The repeated suspension of the constitution by military regimes, followed by extensive reforms to centralise power and to strengthen their civilian allies, notably the religious right, have undermined constitutionalism and the rule of law. General Zia-ul-Haq’s Islamisation of the constitution and laws during the 1980s altered the basic structure of parliamentary democracy, introduced religious, sectarian and gender biases into law and made the violation of fundamental rights not just common practice but a matter of state policy. As a result, Pakistan moved farther and farther away from international standards of justice. The current parliament has, through the eighteenth constitutional amendment, reversed many of these distortions and added new provisions that, if implemented, may indeed strengthen constitutionalism and political stability. More legal reforms are needed. Discriminatory religious laws remain in force, and the justice system is still predisposed towards miscarriage.

      In May 2009, the National Judicial (Policy Making) Committee (NJPC), headed by the Supreme Court chief justice, produced the National Judicial Policy (NJP) 2009 to make the justice system more responsive to citizen needs. The policy applies enormous pressures on civil and criminal courts to resolve cases within a fixed timeframe. However, with a lopsided emphasis on speedier delivery, the NJP has failed to address critical weaknesses in the judiciary, including the criminal justice system. An already low conviction rate could decline even further. While slow delivery remains a critical problem, policymakers should avoid resorting to quick fixes and procedural short-cuts such as parallel court systems and informal dispute resolution mechanisms. Such measures, including anti-terrorism courts, have failed to produce the desired results, and have also undermined the quality of justice. An enhanced and reformed criminal justice sector remains the best and only sustainable option.

      International allies, particularly the U.S. and the EU, should allocate the necessary resources to make Pakistan a strong criminal justice partner. A lopsided partnership with Pakistan’s military has yielded few sustainable counter-terrorism successes. Al-Qaeda affiliated jihadi groups continue to operate in the Pakistani heartland, undermining the country’s security and the security of its neighbours and the international community more broadly. The international community must shift the focus of security assistance to the civilian law enforcement agencies, which would yield long-term counter-terrorism dividends.

      RECOMMENDATIONS:

      To the Federal Government of Pakistan and
      Provincial Governments:

      1. Repeal all laws that discriminate on the basis of religion, sect or gender, including the blasphemy laws, anti-Ahmadi laws and Hudood Ordinances.

      2. Amend the 1997 Anti-Terrorism Act to refine its definition of terrorism to include only those acts that are large in scale and intend to create a sense of fear and insecurity among segments of the public; and disband anti-terrorism courts (ATCs) and try terrorism cases in regular courts.

      3. Amend the Criminal Procedure Code to establish a robust witness protection program, and make the protection of witnesses, investigators, prosecutors and judges in major criminal cases, particularly terrorism cases, a priority.

      4. Address over-crowding in prisons by:

      a) enforcing existing bail laws;

      b) holding to account any trial judge failing to set bail where required by law;

      c) passing a new law requiring judges to allow bail unless there are reasonable grounds to believe the prisoner would abscond or commit further offences; and

      d) reforming the sentencing structure for non-violent petty crimes to include alternatives to imprisonment such as fines, probation and treatment.

      5. Guarantee the rights of all prisoners under remand by:

      a) ensuring that prison facilities are fully resourced, including with enough vehicles to transport prisoners to court on the designated dates;

      b) ensuring that they are taken to court on the dates of their hearings;

      c) taking action against jail authorities who assign labour to remand prisoners, prohibited by law; and

      d) providing free legal aid to remand prisoners who cannot afford counsel.

      6. Initiate a broad dialogue with stakeholders, including serving and retired senior police officials, jurists, criminologists, NGOs and other civil society groups to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the original Police Order (2002), and produce fresh bills in each legislature to strengthen law enforcement that have public support and political sanction.

      7. Develop mechanisms for individual police stations to articulate resource needs and for these to be reflected in provincial police budgeting processes.

      8. Carry out a comprehensive assessment of the gaps in investigation and prosecution, based on analyses of crime patterns, with the goal of identifying personnel, training and resource needs at the national, provincial and district levels; invest in producing cadres of specialists within investigation branches and agencies, in such fields as kidnapping, homicide, counter-terrorism and cyber-crime.

      9. Engage the public as an effective partner in policing by establishing and empowering neighbourhood committees, citizen-police liaison committees and public safety commissions at the national, provincial and district level to oversee critical aspects of policing and by ensuring that police have adequate resources and operational independence.

      10. Strengthen the police’s investigative capacity by:

      a) computerising and maintaining centralised, serviceable records of all FIRs;

      b) amending the Telegraph Act to establish clear protocols for investigators’ access to mobile phone data, and ensuring that this access is not undermined by the military’s intelligence agencies;

      c) amending the Evidence Act to require investigators to incorporate scientific methods and data in investigations;

      d) modernising the police force by enhancing scientific evidence collection, including DNA analysis, automated fingerprinting identification systems, and forensics, with particular emphasis on the provincial and district levels; prioritising completion of forensics science laboratories in Islamabad, in the case of the federal government, and Lahore, in the case of the provincial Punjab government; and allocating resources for similar laboratories in Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces;

      e) bringing the national forensics science laboratory under the Federal Investigation Agency, and the provincial laboratories under the respective criminal investigation departments, while guaranteeing operational independence and oversight;

      f) appointing highly qualified scientists to head the forensics science laboratories, and making recruitment open to the private sector, with competitive salaries; and

      g) requiring all potential candidates to the investigation branches to first serve as understudies to senior investigators; recruiting those who show potential; requiring them to undergo specialised training in specific fields such as homicide, counter-terrorism, cyber-crime and counter-narcotics; and providing regular refresher training, including through foreign exposure.

      11. Prevent external interference in investigations by:

      a) requiring the approval of the relevant public safety commission before an investigating officer in an ongoing investigation can be replaced; and

      b) publicising instances of military interference in investigations, including pressure on the police to surrender prisoners to the military’s intelligence agencies, and raise such cases with the higher judiciary.

      12. Strengthen the criminal prosecution services and police-prosecutor coordination by:

      a) raising police and prosecutors’ salaries;

      b) providing security of tenure to prosecutors, empowering them to reject weak cases, as well as specialised training in such fields as homicide and counter-terrorism, and integrating it with related police training programs;

      c) mandating joint police-prosecutor committees to oversee investigations; and

      d) establishing a committee within each prosecution service, headed by the prosecutor general and comprising respected jurists, to examine the number of cases an individual prosecutor prosecutes, reasons for trial delays, and the number of convictions and acquittals, including identifying causes for acquittals.

      13. Disband all state-supported lashkars (militias) and take action against any individuals or groups pursuing vigilante justice, including against alleged militants.

      14. Commit to impartial justice and end all deviations from the rule of law and constitutionalism by:

      a) repealing parallel courts systems such as qazi (Sharia), National Accountability Bureau and anti-terrorism courts;

      b) repealing all laws that discriminate on the basis on religion, sect and gender, including the blasphemy and anti-Ahmadi laws and the Hudood Ordinances; and

      c) prosecuting any civilian or military officials responsible for enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations.

      To Pakistan’s Higher Judiciary:

      15. Shift the focus of the National Judicial Policy from short-term solutions for speedier delivery towards establishing a justice system that tackles the primary threats to internal stability and instills public confidence in the state.

      16. Circumscribe the doctrine of the constitution’s basic features by limiting it to amendments that negate the spirit of parliamentary democracy, judicial independence and federalism, and remove reference to Islamic provisions, given their vagueness.

      17. Respect the separation of powers enshrined in the constitution by:

      a) limiting the Supreme Court’s use of suo motu powers to extreme cases of fundamental rights violations;

      b) strictly interpreting Article 184 of the constitution to provide a clear definition of “public interest” that would prevent its broad use or abuse; and

      c) prohibiting the provincial high courts from taking suo motu action, in accordance with the constitution.

      18. Strike down all laws that discriminate on the basis of religion, sect and gender, as unconstitutional, if the government fails to repeal them.

      To the International Community, particularly
      the United States and the European Union:

      19. Make Pakistan a strong criminal justice partner by shifting the focus of security assistance to civilian law enforcement agencies and criminal prosecution.

      20. Support the modernisation and enhance the counter-terrorism capacity of the police and civilian security agencies, including by training investigators in modern methods of evidence collection, equipping forensic laboratories and assisting the computerisation of police records.

      21. Send unambiguous signals to the military that illegal detentions, extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations in the name of counter-terrorism are unacceptable, by conditioning military aid on credible efforts by the military leadership to hold any military and intelligence officers and officials found committing such acts to account.

      December 9, 2010

      AHCR campaigns to prosecute Maulana Yousaf Qureshi

      by admin

      Related News Stories:

      “No one will let her live. The mullahs are saying they will kill her when she comes out.”

      And Chief Justice Justice Khwaja Sharif of the Lahore High Court barred the government from introducing any change in the blasphemy law.

      The Asian Human rights commission documents and launches campaign concerning threats to Asia Bibi’s life and also demands prosecution of Maluna Yousaf Quresh. The AHCR in it’s urgent appeal program demanded that extremist clerics who issued decree to kill a Christian woman should be prosecuted.

      The AHCR also suggested that we[citizens] should write the letters, phone calls, fax and e-mails to the authorities urging them to pardon Asia and release her immediately. And ask them to arrest those extremist religious leaders who are instigating the people to kill her and have announced rewards for killing her. And also urge that the children and family members of her be provided protection and employment.

      The AHRC writes a separate letter to UN Special Rapporteur on the Question of Religious tolerance calling for his intervention into this case.

      On Dec. 3 the imam of Peshawar’s oldest mosque, Maluna Yousaf Qureshi, offered a 500,000 rupee (about $5,800) reward to anyone who killed the Asia Bibi if the court failed to execute her.

      His comments drew criticism from Latif Afridi, a renowned lawyer and former president of the Peshawar High Court Bar Association. He said the imam’s statement was “a mad person’s words and are contrary to basic human rights.” According to the Pakistan Express Tribune, The lawyer also charged that the remarks constituted an open threat to someone’s life and merited legal action.

      However, Nawa-i-Waqt, Pakistan’s leading Urdu newspaper, also endorsed the call for Bibi’s death. It said her punishment “will be carried out in one manner or the other.”

      Extremists cleric’s public incitement to murder sparked some criticism in Pakistani media, but no sign of any law enforcement action or investigation. Article 506 of the Pakistan penal code outlaws “criminal intimidation,” and in cases where death is threatened the standard applicable two-year prison term rises to seven.

      On the one hand Mullahs are hell bent on seeing Asia Bibi dead, as you will see in the links to a TV discussion, and on the contrary Sherry Rehman, Pakistan Peoples Party’s lawmaker and President of Jinnah Institute, heroically and rightly said,

      “allowing any open incitement to murder in the name of protecting religion must stop right now. The state must retain its monopoly on the use of force, and penalties under the law, no one else. Letting Qureshi flout the justice system is also tantamount to challenging the jurisdiction of the courts, and due notice must immediately taken to penalize such actions.”

      PAKISTANI MULLAHS WANT ASIA BIBI TO BE KILLED

      Ali Dayan Hasan, Senior Researcher at Human Rights Watch and Member of the Board of Advisors at the Jinnah Institute said, “This is brazen incitement to violence and murder. The full force of the law should apply and Qureshi should be held accountable.”

      The Jinnah Institute Caucus on Blasphemy Laws condemned Qureshi’s incitement to murder and calls for an end to vigilante justice. The Lahore High Court should conduct Aasia Bibi’s appeal with regard to due process in order to give her fair trial. The JI caucus also called for amendments to the Blasphemy Laws in accordance with the Amendments to the Blasphemy Laws Bill 2010 presented in the National Assembly.

      Here is a complete appeal:

      Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

      PAKISTAN: Muslim leaders who issued decree to kill a Christian woman should be prosecuted

      ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

      Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-177-2010

      Dear friends,

      The Asian Human Rights Commission received information that Muslim fundamentalist and extremist groups have advocated publicly that a Christian lady, Aasia Bibi, sentenced to death under the blasphemy laws should not be pardoned even though her pardon was awarded by a session court on the instigation of Muslim religious leadership. Some have offered a cash reward for Aasia’s assassination. Since the introduction of 295-C to the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) by a military dictator in 1986, dozens of persons from religious minority groups have been killed or lynched by mobs. Pakistan’s courts have also proved themselves biased on blasphemy law.

      Throughout Pakistan, wall chalking and graffiti declare support for killing Aasia, call for death to Aasia, and declare support for blasphemy law. A high profile campaign has also started in the private media channels against reforming the blasphemy law, and participants use filthy words against those persons who are advocating amendment of section 295-C of the PPC.

      Please sign the appeal urging the authorities to pardon Aasia and abolish the amendments in blasphemy law. The religious minorities should be given full protection from the misuse of blasphemy law.

      CASE NARRATIVE:

      Aasia Bibi, 45, a Christian and mother of five, was sentenced to death by a local court in Nankana district, Punjab province, on charges of committing blasphemy. Ms Bibi’s case dates back to June 2009, when she was asked to fetch water while out working in the fields and a group of Muslim women labourers objected, saying that as a non-Muslim she should not touch the water bowl. This resulted in exchange of hot words between her and Muslim women against each others’ religious beliefs. Five days after the incident, a local Muslim leader, Qari Salim, jumped into the matter and pressured some people in the area to claim that she committed blasphemy.

      When finding no way to get Ms. Bibi to confess, Salim used the loudspeakers of the mosque, as other Muslim leaders usually do in the cases of alleged blasphemy acts, to spread the news of blasphemy and instigate the people of the locality to punish the alleged blasphemer. The people of the locality beat her severely in the presence of her children. The local police came and took her into protective custody, but at the police station the crowd under the leadership of Qari Salim pressured the police to file a charge of blasphemy against her and arrest her for desecrating the last prophet of Islam (peace be upon him).

      On November 1, 2010, 16 months after her arrest, the court pronounced a death sentence on charges of committing blasphemy. The judge totally ruled out in his judgment any chance that Aasia was falsely implicated; he said that there were no mitigating circumstances. His comment in his verdict shows that he knew that it was a weak case and that people will oppose his judgment giving a death sentence to a woman in a blasphemy case for the first time in the history of Pakistan. According to the reports, the court relied on the witnesses provided by the Muslim leader of the mosque and Christians were not allowed to produce witnesses. The judge also did not know that according to the 2004 amendment to blasphemy law the investigation of any blasphemy charges should be conducted by an officer who is at least a Superintendent of Police (SP). In the case of Aasia, all the investigation was done by a low rank officer, the Assistant Sub-Inspector.

      It has been found that Pakistan’s judges, from the lower courts to the highest courts, are eager to get popularity through their verdicts and comments during the hearing. When the chief justice of the Lahore High Court stopped the government from withdrawing the case of blasphemy against Aasia on the assumption that president of Pakistan would withdraw the case, Ms. Asma Jehangir, the president of Supreme Court Bar Association told the judges that if they want to get popularity through their judgment then they should do some other job rather than being a judge. The judiciary’s attitude towards the blasphemy law is no different than that of ordinary Muslim leaders. When the Chief Justice implored the government not to pardon the sentence, another bench of the same court also asked the government not to amend the blasphemy law.

      It is also evident that those persons responsible for extra-judicial killings of persons accused of blasphemy will never be punished by the courts because of the biases of the courts and because of the lengthy period of trial during which witnesses were pressured by the militant groups.

      A prominent Muslim leader, Maulana Yousef Qureshi, a hard line Pakistani Islamic cleric, told a rally in the north-western town of Peshawar that his mosque would give Rs. 0.5 million ($6,000 US dollars) to anyone who kills Aasia Bibi. The Maulana is the leader of Mosque Mahabat Khan, the biggest in the Khyber Pakhtoon Kha province. His announcement was carried by all electronic and print media, yet the government has not taken any legal action against Maulana for inciting people to kill extra judicially. Muslim religious groups all over the Pakistan are holding protest meetings in large numbers, instructing followers that there should be no compromise if the government or courts pardon Aasia’s death sentence.

      The governor of Punjab, who met Aasia in jail after her sentence and assured her that he would take her case before the president of Pakistan, advocating to pardon her. However, the Lahore high court suddenly stopped the process and said before the decision of the court that the government cannot do such a thing. All the religious groups and parties maligned the governor as he is violating the basic teachings of Islam or he is an infidel.

      Ms. Bibi’s husband and children are hiding. They left the house after receiving threats from the Muslim extremists. It is difficult for them to survive, as the husband and his other brothers are always chased by Muslim groups. There is a strong chance that her family would be attacked and might be killed as these happened in previous cases when persons were accused of blasphemy. In a recent case of two Christian brothers, the AHRC informed the authorities of the threat well before those brothers were killed in custody. Please see the urgent appeal in the case of Rashid Emmanuel and Sajjid.

      In another case dating from July 2009, a Christian youth was killed by extremists in November 2010 after being released from charges of blasphemy. Please go to his case by clicking here.

      One daily newspaper, Nawa-i-Waqt has written an editorial in favour of Maulana Yousuf Querashi, who issued a decree against Aasia Bibi and announced a cash reward for whomever kills Aasia Bibi. The newspaper wrote that Maulana was great in his decree and his action is according to Islam therefore Aasia Bibi should be killed.

      The speaker and legislators of the provincial Assembly of Punjab province who support the move against Aasia Bibi are no better. When Mr. Shara, a minority member of the assembly, wanted to discuss the issue of Aasia and her punishment, the speaker, Rani Iqbal Ahmad, refused to allow Shara to speak on the issue, describing it as “sensitive”. Protesting against the speaker’s attitude, legislators belonging to minority communities walked out of the House. However, when Ali Haider Noor Niazi of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan party began speaking emotionally on the same issue, the speaker did not stop him. Niazi began shouting within the assembly as he criticised those who were trying to defend the woman. Niazi criticised Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer for raising his voice in favour of Asia Bibi. “The governor has no right to make efforts for Asia’s pardon,” he said. Niazi was also of the view that those demanding the woman’s release are blasphemers.

      It is very much feared that Aasia Bibi or her family members may be killed during her detention or when she is released. The Punjab government is silent on the issue and allowing fundamentalist groups to decide all things.

      ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

      The deliberate institutionalisation of Islam’s status as protected and predominant promoted the perpetuation of religious intolerance by Islamic fundamentalists. According to data collected by the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), at least 964 persons were alleged of violating these anti-blasphemy clauses from 1986 to August 2009, while more than 30 persons were killed extra-judicially by the angry mob or by individuals.

      Militant Muslim organizations are using blasphemy laws as the best way to keep religious minority groups under pressure and even forcibly take land. The state is failing to protect the lives and property of minority communities. The blasphemy law has made it compulsory that no police officer below the level of Superintendent of Police can investigate the charges but this is rarely adhered to.

      Recent cases in Pakistan suggest a criminal collaboration among government authorities, police, and fundamentalist organizations, in which the Muslim clergy, receiving bribes from land-grabbers in the National and Provincial Assemblies, colluded with local police to expropriate land owned by minorities by bringing blasphemy allegations against them. The situation is especially worrying in Punjab province after the formation of the PML-N government, which has a record of intolerant policies against Christians and Ahmadis in particular.

      SUGGESTED ACTION:

      Please write the letters to the authorities urging them to pardon Aasia and release her immediately. Please ask them to arrest those Muslim leaders who are instigating the people to kill her and have announced rewards for killing her. Please also urge that the children and family members of her be provided protection and employment.

      The AHRC writes a separate letter to UN Special Rapporteur on the Question of Religious tolerance calling for his intervention into this case.

      To support this appeal please click here:
      ——————————

      ————————
      SAMPLE LETTER:

      Dear __________,

      PAKISTAN: Muslim leaders who issued decree to kill a Christian lady should be prosecuted

      Name of victim:
      Ms. Aasia Bibi, 45, mother of five living in Ittanwali village, Nanka district, Punjab province, Pakistan
      Names of alleged perpetrators:
      1. Maulani Yousuf Querashi, Imam Majid Mahabat Khan, Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtonn Kha province, Pakistan
      2. Maulana Muhammad Salim, Imam Masjid, Ittanwala village, Nankana district, Punjab province, Pakistan
      3. Editor, daily Nawa-i-waqt, Lahore, Punjab province, Pakistan
      Date of incident: November 1, 2010
      Place of incident: Nankana district, Punjab province, Pakistan

      I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding death sentence of Aasia, a Christian mother of five, on the charges of blasphemy by a court and the government’s inability to prosecute those elements who are openly announcing their intention to kill her or award cash money for that purpose. Because of lawlessness and government weakness the Muslim extremist groups are finding it easy to kill her extra judicially. From past experience it has been noted that up until now, blasphemy law had not led to an execution of any accused or convicted. But 33 people charged with blasphemy have been killed in prison by guards or in the vicinity of the court.

      It is very shocking that mosque leader Mahabat Khan, of Peshawar, has announced a decree calling for the killing of Asia and a reward of Rs 500,000 ($6000 USD) to be given to the killer. The call for extra judicial killing by an Muslim leader was totally ignored by the government, which shows that there is no rule of law in the country and every person can claim his own law is Islamic law. This amounts to a total collapse of rule of the law and justice system.

      Aasia Bibi, 45, a Christian and mother of five, was sentenced to death by a local court in Nankana district, Punjab province, on charges of committing blasphemy. Ms Bibi’s case dates back to June 2009, when she was asked to fetch water while out working in the fields and a group of Muslim women labourers objected, saying that as a non-Muslim she should not touch the water bowl. This resulted in exchange of hot words between her and Muslim women against each others’ religious beliefs. Five days after the incident, a local Muslim leader, Qari Salem, jumped into the matter and pressured some people in the area to claim that she committed blasphemy.

      When finding no way to get Ms. Bibi to confess, Salem used the loudspeakers of the mosque, as other Muslim leaders usually do in the cases of alleged blasphemy acts, to spread the news of blasphemy and instigate the people of the locality to punish the alleged blasphemer. The people of the locality beat her severely in the presence of her children. The local police came and took her into protective custody, but at the police station the crowd under the leadership of Qari Salem pressured the police to file a charge of blasphemy against her and arrest her for desecrating the last prophet of Islam (peace be upon him).

      On November 1, 2010, 16 months after her arrest, the court pronounced a death sentence on charges of committing blasphemy. The judge totally ruled out in his judgment any chance that Aasia was falsely implicated; he said that there were no mitigating circumstances. His comment in his verdict shows that he knew that it was a weak case and that people will oppose his judgment giving a death sentence to a woman in a blasphemy case for the first time in the history of Pakistan. According to the reports, the court relied on the witnesses provided by the Muslim leader of the mosque and Christians were not allowed to produce any witness. The judge also did not know that according to the 2004 amendment to blasphemy law the investigation of any blasphemy charges should be conducted by an officer who is at least a Superintendent of Police (SP). In the case of Aasia, all the investigation was done by a low rank officer, the Assistant Sub-Inspector.

      It has been found that Pakistan’s judges, from the lower courts to the highest courts, are eager to get popularity through their verdicts and comments during the hearing. When the chief justice of the Lahore High Court stopped the government from withdrawing the case of blasphemy against Aasia on the assumption that president of Pakistan would withdraw the case, Ms. Asma Jehangir, the president of Supreme Court Bar Association told the judges that if they want to get popularity through their judgment then they should do some other job rather than being a judge. The judiciary’s attitude towards the blasphemy law is no different than that of ordinary Muslim leaders. When the Chief Justice implored the government not to pardon the sentence, another bench of the same court also asked the government not to amend the blasphemy law.

      It is also evident that those persons responsible for extra-judicial killings of persons accused of blasphemy will never be punished by the courts because of the biases of the courts and because of the lengthy period of trial during which witnesses were pressured by the militant groups.

      A prominent Muslim leader, Maulana Yousef Qureshi, a hard line Pakistani Islamic cleric, told a rally in the north-western town of Peshawar that his mosque would give Rs. 0.5 million ($6,000 US dollars) to anyone who kills Aasia Bibi. The Maulana is the leader of Mosque Mahabat Khan, the biggest in the Khyber Pakhtoon Kha province. His announcement was carried by all electronic and print media, yet the government has not taken any legal action against Maulana for inciting people to kill extra judicially. Muslim religious groups all over the Pakistan are holding protest meetings in large numbers, instructing followers that there should be no compromise if the government or courts pardon Aasia’s death sentence.

      The governor of Punjab, who met Aasia in jail after her sentence and assured her that he would take her case before the president of Pakistan, advocating to pardon her. However, the Lahore high court suddenly stopped the process and said before the decision of the court that the government cannot do such a thing. All the religious groups and parties maligned the governor as he is violating the basic teachings of Islam.

      Ms. Bibi’s husband and children are hiding. They left the house after receiving threats from the Muslim extremists. It is difficult for them to survive, as the husband and his other brothers are always chased by Muslim groups. There is a strong chance that her family would be attacked and might be killed as these happened in previous cases when persons were accused of blasphemy. In a recent case of two Christian brothers, the AHRC informed the authorities of the threat well before those brothers were killed in custody.

      In another case dating from July 2009, a Christian youth was killed by extremists in November 2010 after being released from charges of blasphemy.

      One daily newspaper, Nawa-i-Waqt has written an editorial in favour of Maulana Yousuf Querashi, who issued a decree against Aasia Bibi and announced a cash reward for whomever kills Aasia Bibi. The newspaper wrote that Maulana was great in his decree and his action is according to Islam therefore Aasia Bibi should be killed.

      The speaker and legislators of the provincial Assembly of Punjab province who support the move against Aasia Bibi are no better. When Mr. Shara, a minority member of the assembly, wanted to discuss the issue of Aasia and her punishment, the speaker, Rani Iqbal Ahmad, refused to allow Shara to speak on the issue, describing it as “sensitive”. Protesting against the speaker’s attitude, legislators belonging to minority communities walked out of the House. However, when Ali Haider Noor Niazi of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan party began speaking emotionally on the same issue, the speaker did not stop him. Niazi began shouting within the assembly as he criticised those who were trying to defend the woman. Niazi criticised Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer for raising his voice in favour of Asia Bibi. “The governor has no right to make efforts for Asia’s pardon,” he said. Niazi was also of the view that those demanding the woman’s release are blasphemers.

      It is very much feared that Aasia Bibi or her family members may be killed during her detention or when she is released. The Punjab government is silent on the issue and allowing fundamentalist groups to decide all things.

      I urge the government to take strong action against the fundamentalist Muslim leaders who take the law in their own hands in the name of Islam and want to rule the country with their extremist designs and misuse the blasphemy law.

      I urge you to immediately repeal the black law, the blasphemy law, or at least delete section 295 from the Pakistan Penal Code, release Aasia Bibi and provide protection to her and her family. Also prosecute those who issued decrees ordering the killing of Aasia Bibi.

      I look forward to your prompt action to provide substantial and comprehensive policy responses on the protection of religious minority groups and misuse of blasphemy law.

      Yours sincerely,

      —————-

      PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

      1. Mr. Asif Ali Zardari
      President of Pakistan
      President’s Secretariat
      Islamabad
      PAKISTAN
      Tel: +92 51 9204801 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting +92 51 9204801 end_of_the_skype_highlighting / 51 9214171
      Fax: +92 51 9207458
      Email: publicmail@president.gov.pk

      2.Mr. Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani
      Prime Minister of Pakistan
      Prime Minister House
      Islamabad
      PAKISTAN
      Fax: + 92 51 9221596
      E-mail: secretary@cabinet.gov.pk, pspm@pmsectt.gov.pk

      3. Mr. A. Rehman Malik
      Federal Minister for Interior
      Government of Pakistan,
      R block, Pak Secretariat
      Islamabad
      PAKISTAN
      Tel: +92 51 9212026 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting +92 51 9212026 end_of_the_skype_highlighting, 51 9212026, 51 9212026, 51 9212026
      Fax: +92 51 9202624
      E-mail: ministry.interior@gmail.com, interior.complaintcell@gmail.com

      4. Mr. Syed Mumtaz Alam Gillani
      Federal Minister for Human Rights
      Ministry of Human Rights
      Old US AID Building
      Ata Turk Avenue
      G-5, Islamabad
      PAKISTAN
      Fax: +92 51 9204108
      E-mail: sarfaraz_yousuf@yahoo.com

      5. Mr. Salman Taseer
      Governor of Punjab
      Governor House
      Mall Road
      Lahore
      PAKISTAN
      Fax: +92 42 99203044
      E-mail: governor.sectt@punjab.gov.pk

      6. Chief Secretary of Government of Punjab
      Punjab Secretariat
      Lahore, Punjab province
      PAKISTAN
      Fax: +92 42 7324489
      E-mail: chiefsecy@punjab.gov.pk

      7. Minister of Law
      Government of Punjab
      Punjab Secretariat
      Ravi Road
      Lahore, Punjab province
      PAKISTAN
      Fax: +92 42 99212004
      E-mail: law@punjab.gov.pk

      8. Dr. Faqir hussain
      Registrar
      Supreme Court of Pakistan
      Constitution Avenue, Islamabad
      PAKISTAN
      Fax: + 92 51 9213452
      E-mail: mail@supremecourt.gov.pk

      Thank you.

      December 6, 2010

      "No one will let her live, the mullahs are saying they will kill her when she comes out", a BBC report on Asia Bibi

      by admin

      “No one will let her live. The mullahs are saying they will kill her when she comes out.”
      And Chief Justice Justice Khwaja Sharif of the Lahore High Court barred the government from introducing any change in the blasphemy law.

      Thousands of religious extremists gathered in Islamabad on Sunday, warning the federal government not to touch the country’s blasphemy laws or to pardon Asia Bibi on death row for allegedly blaspheming Prophet Mohammed[PBUH]. The case of Asia Bibi has triggered considerable debate in overwhelmingly Muslim[majority]country, where the federal government has been finding it difficult to confront hard-line elements such as the fundamentalist cleric who has offered a reward to anyone who murders her.

      Adding to the concerns for her safety, Yousuf Qureshi, imam of the largest mosque in Peshawar, told a rally Friday that his mosque would give 500,000 rupees (about $5,800) to anyone who kills Bibi. He also warned the government not to tamper with blasphemy laws which he said protect Prophet Mohammed(PBUH)’s “sanctity.”

      Jamaat e Islami (JI), right wing religious party which last week announced countrywide protests against any attempt to amend the blasphemy law, mounted a sit-in demonstration near parliament in Islamabad Sunday to make its point, along with broader calls for the government to abandon its alliance with the United States. JI chief Munawar Hasan earlier told Pakistani reporters the government had to decide whether it stood with Muslims or with “the blasphemers.” Other Islamist groups have also threatened violent consequences should Bibi be pardoned.

      Qureshi’s public incitement to murder sparked some criticism in Pakistani media, but no sign of any law enforcement action or investigation. Article 506 of the Pakistan penal code outlaws “criminal intimidation,” and in cases where death is threatened the standard applicable two-year prison term rises to seven. Minorities minister earlier submitted a report to the President Zardari saying his investigations into the case found Bibi to be innocent.

      The following news story, compiled from BBC News Website.

      Ashiq Masih has the look of a hunted man – gaunt, anxious and exhausted.

      Though he is guilty of nothing, this Pakistani labourer is on the run – with his five children. His wife, Asia Bibi, has been sentenced to death for blaspheming against Islam. That is enough to make the entire family a target. They stay hidden by day, so we met them after dark.

      Mr Masih told us they move constantly, trying to stay one step ahead of the anonymous callers who have been menacing them.

      “I ask who they are, but they refuse to tell me,” he said.

      “They say ‘we’ll deal with you if we get our hands on you’. Now everyone knows about us, so I am hiding my kids here and there. I don’t allow them to go out. Anyone can harm them,” he added.

      Ashiq Masih says his daughters still cry for their mother and ask if she will be home in time for Christmas. He insists that Asia Bibi is innocent and will be freed, but he worries about what will happen next.

      “When she comes out, how she can live safely?” he asks.

      A radical cleric has promised 500,000 Pakistani rupees (£3,700; US$5,800) to anyone prepared to “finish her”. He suggested that the Taliban might be happy to do it.

      Asia Bibi’s troubles began in June 2009 in her village, Ittan Wali, a patchwork of lush fields and dusty streets. Hers was the only Christian household. She was picking berries alongside local Muslim women, when a row developed over sharing water. Days later, the women claimed she had insulted the Prophet Muhammad. Soon, Asia Bibi was being pursued by a mob.

      “In the village they tried to put a noose around my neck, so that they could kill me,” she said in a brief appearance outside her jail cell.

      Asia Bibi says she was falsely accused to settle an old score. That is often the case with the blasphemy law, critics say. At the village mosque, we found no mercy for her.

      The imam, Qari Mohammed Salim, told us he cried with joy when sentence was passed on Asia Bibi. He helped to bring the case against her and says she will be made to pay, one way or the other.

      “If the law punishes someone for blasphemy, and that person is pardoned, then we will also take the law in our hands,” he said.

      In Pakistan, Islamic parties have been out on the streets, threatening anarchy if she is freed, or if there is any attempt to amend the blasphemy law.

      Under Pakistan’s penal code, anyone who “defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet” can be punished by death or life imprisonment. Death sentences have always been overturned on appeal.

      Human right groups and Christian organisations want the law abolished.

      “It was designed as an instrument of persecution,” says Ali Hasan Dayan, of Human Rights Watch in Pakistan. “It’s discriminatory and abusive.”

      While most of those charged under the law are Muslims, campaigners say it is an easy tool for targeting minorities, in this overwhelmingly Muslim state.

      “It is a hanging sword on the neck of all minorities, especially Christians,” says Shahzad Kamran, of the Sharing Life Ministry, which ministers to prisoners, including Asia Bibi.

      “In our churches, homes and workplaces we feel fear,” he says.

      “It’s very easy to make this accusation because of a grudge, or for revenge. Anyone can accuse you. Even our little children are afraid that if they say something wrong at school, they will be charged with blasphemy.”

      ‘No compromise’

      Asia Bibi’s story has sparked a public debate in Pakistan about reforming the law, but it is a touchy – and risky – subject which many politicians would prefer to ignore. Campaigners fear that the talk about reform of the blasphemy laws will amount to no more than that. When Pakistan’s Minister for Minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, raised the issue six months ago, he was threatened with death.

      “I was told I could be beheaded if I proposed any change,” he told us.

      ‘Electric shock’
      Thirty-four people connected with blasphemy cases have been killed since the law was hardened in 1986, according to Pakistan’s Justice and Peace Commission, a Catholic campaign group.

      In a neglected graveyard by a railway track in the city of Faisalabad, we found two of the latest victims of the blasphemy law.

      They are brothers, buried side by side, together in death, as they were in life. Rashid Emmanuel was a pastor. His brother, Sajid, was an MBA student. They were gunned down in July during their trial – inside a courthouse, in handcuffs and in police custody. Relatives, who asked not to be identified, said the blasphemy charges were brought because of a land dispute.

      After the killings, the extended family had to leave home and move to another city. They say they will be moving again soon.

      “We don’t feel safe,” one relative told us.

      “We are shocked, like an electric shock. We are going from one place to another to defend ourselves, and secure our family members.”

      Once a month they come to the cemetery to pray at the graves of their lost loved ones. They are too frightened to visit more often. They bow their heads and mourn for two men who they say were killed for nothing – except being Christian.

      December 6, 2010

      Christmas in jail for Asia Bibi, as Khawaja Sharif bars govt from amending blasphemy law

      by admin

      Asia Bibi's daughters have learned sadly about the trial's postponement and are preparing to celebrate Christmas without mother.

      Related Articles: Nawaz Sharif’s sectarian poodle in Lahore High Court stays Aasia bibi’s release

      LHC overstepped in barring Zardari from pardoning blasphemy-accused Christian: HRW

      Chief Justice Justice Khwaja Sharif of the Lahore High Court barred the government from introducing any change in the blasphemy law in response to a petition filed by a man named Muhammad Nasir.

      Khawaj Sharif issued a notice asking the government to clarify its position on the issue at the next hearing scheduled for December 23.

      In his petition, Nasir asked the court to stop the federal government from making any change in the law.

      The Chief Justice said the government should not take any step till the court gives its verdict on the petition.

      This statement is an obvious interference by the judiciary on the prerogative of Parliament and the Government, who hold legislative and executive power: lawyers, politicians, and representatives from civil society have commented on the High Court’s.


      The Lahore High Court’s order to bar President Asif Ali Zardari from pardoning Aasia Bibi, contravenes Pakistan’s constitution and should be withdrawn immediately, an international human rights organisation Watch already has said.
      Legal experts are calling it “unacceptable, just a sign of confusion of conflict of powers. The Court can not in any way affect the role of Parliament or the Government.”

      According to the various international organizations now it’s evident clear that the case of Asia Bibi is being politicised, and, on one hand, there are attempts to insert it into political or tactical disputes, and on the other is a gross act of exploitation  radical Islamic groups.

      In fact, yesterday in Islamabad, the radical activists of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) protested before Parliament, asking the Government to deal with the “real problems of the country”, citing inflation and “the submissive rapport with the United States”, and asking to give up the revision of the blasphemy law.

      Meanwhile the work of the Commission appointed by President Zardari to revise the law is about to begin and, as authoritative sources in the Pakistani government reveal to Fides, “the Commission expects to deliver an outcome and a proposal for revision within three months.”

      A prominent law maker of Pakistan People’s Party Sherry Rehman has introduced a private bill in parliament to change the law.

      Asia Bibi’s family has learned sadly about the trial’s postponement and is preparing to celebrate Christmas without Asia.

      “It will be a Christmas in which all the Christians of Pakistan remember and pray for Asia and her family. While the politicians plays their games, there is an innocent victim who suffers in prison and children without a mother,”

      Haroon Barket Masih told Fides, head of the Masihi Foundation,” which is taking care of the family and providing legal assistance, noting that “the appeal process is expected to last about a year.”

      According to official data released today by the press in Pakistan, there are 130 people in prison for blasphemy in different jails in Punjab. Of these, 64 were convicted, while 52 are on trial. Of those convicted, 12 (including Asia Bibi) are sentenced to death while others are serving life imprisonment or other penalties. Only eight of them are Christians, the remaining 122 are Muslims. Of the eight Christians, two are women (Asia Bibi and Riqqiya Bibi, wife of Munir Masih.

      Earlier Asma Jahangir, human rights activist and chairperson of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), criticised the courts restraining order.

      “The president is yet to grant pardon. So there was no need for such an order,” she said, adding that “the court should not take such populist stance”.

      Ms Asma said the court shouldn’t have passed an order over a possible future event.

      “A stay order in anticipation of something is unheard of,” Jahangir said. “This was done by the high court to gain popularity.”

      A spokesman for President Asif Ali Zardari responded to the statement of the Lahore High Court, claiming the prerogative and powers of the President. President Zardari through his spokesman said that the High Court has no jurisdiction over his duties and, under Article 45 of the Constitution, the President may at any time decide to grant a pardon. The Supreme Court of Pakistan, with a statement of “its motion” (ie, of their own initiative) has confirmed this interpretation, noting that only the Supreme Court may give binding instructions to the Government or the President.

      ASIA BIBI’S DAUGHTERS WAITING FOR THE EXECUTION OF THEIR MOTHER

      The Constitution says as follows:

      45. President’s power to grant pardon, etc.

      The President shall have power to grant pardon, reprieve and respite, and to remit, suspend or commute any sentence passed by any court, tribunal or other authority.

      248. Protection to President, Governor, Minister, etc.

      (1) The President, a Governor, the Prime Minister, a Federal Minister, a Minister of State, the Chief Minister and a Provincial Minister shall not he answerable to any court for the exercise of powers and performance of functions of their respective offices or for any act done or purported to be done in the exercise of those powers and performance of those functions:

      Provided that nothing in this clause shall be construed as restricting the right of any person to bring appropriate proceedings against the Federation or a Province.

      55-A. Saving for President prerogative:

      Nothing in Section fifty-four or Section fifty-five shall derogate from the right of the President to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment:

      Provided that such right shall not without the consent of the victim or, as the case may be. of the heirs of the victim, be exercised for any sentence awarded under Chapter XVI.

      67. Rules of Procedure, etc.
      (1) Subject to the Constitution, a House may make [67] rules for regulating its procedure and the conduct of its business, and shall have power to act notwithstanding any vacancy in the membership thereof, and any proceedings in the House shall not be invalid on the ground that some persons who were not entitled to do so sat, voted or otherwise took part in the proceedings.
      (2) Until rules are made under clause (1), the procedure and conduct of business in a House shall be regulated by the rules of procedure made by the President.

      68. Restriction on discussion in Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament).

      No discussion shall take place in [68] [Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament)] with respect to the conduct of any Judge of the Supreme Court or of a High Court in the discharge of his duties.

      69. Courts not to inquire into proceedings of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament).

      (1) The validity of any proceedings in [68] [Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament)] shall not be called in question on the ground of any irregularity of procedure.
      (2) No officer or member of [68] [Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament)] in whom powers are vested by or under the Constitution for regulating procedure or the conduct of business, or for maintaining order in [68] [Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament)], shall be subject to the jurisdiction of any court in respect of the exercise by him of those powers.

      (3) In this Article, [68] [Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament)] has the same meaning as in Article 66.

      December 4, 2010

      Pakistan government urged to halt anti-Christian hate campaign on television

      by admin

      Related Article: Blasphemy law and the attitude of journalists and anchors -by John Bosco


      Pakistan’s predominantly right wing media’s hostile propaganda against Non Muslims and misrepresentation of events and interpretation of discriminatory laws serve as a breeding ground for extremist aberrations in the society.

      Journalism is a gentleman’s profession, but here in Pakistan, newly born liberalized media seems to be working up mob hysteria especially against Non Muslims and the democratically elected parliament. Media and its self-puritan anchors are continuously encouraging a pseudo-religious approach to life, society & politics -and its hostile propaganda against Non Muslims, which is very much suitable for extremist aberrations.

      Mostly, TV talk show hosts and Ziaist brand analysts are seen to be duty bound to peddle anti human anti democracy conspiracy theories and bash parliamentarians -they are infect inciting hatred and violence among the country’s citizens and especially against those having different or ‘unpopular’ views and thoughts.

      While extremist groups are primarily responsible for denying space for pluralistic thinking and limiting the scope for democratic development, some newspapers in Pakistan are themselves involved in promoting intolerance in society. TV channels were guilty of providing the oxygen of publicity to the extremist ideology and in a mad race for breaking news many channels reported events without verifying the facts and often exaggerated the events.

      In the ‘talk show democracy’, political actors are, through their illogical and fact-less narratives, irresponsibly spreading confusion, conservatism and abhorrence. There are flawed assumptions and speculations – misuse of the religious, political and national narrative by the hosts is the leading cause of extremism in the society. These political actors want a clash among the various sections of society for their own ulterior motives.

      According to the Pakistan Christian Post, Nasir Saeed, director of CLAAS-UK, has written to the government of Pakistan about his concern over the increasingly grave situation surrounding Aasia Bibi’s death sentence and ongoing discussions about an amendment to the blasphemy laws, the underlying issue and the main source of persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in Pakistan.

      The death sentence imposed upon Aasia has provoked a renewed debate about amending the blasphemy law to stop its misuse. The impassioned debates on television channels, online and print media about amending the blasphemy law reveal how contentious and controversial the laws have become. Almost every Pakistani directly or indirectly is affected by this ongoing situation.

      Mr Saeed said: “I have seen how some of the participants become almost hysterical and as they are in the majority of the population, this could result in devastating consequences for the country and minorities in particular. I fear that this situation could be exploited by extremists and may lead to other serious incidents against Christians.”

      Mr Saeed has said that the situation has become very tense and there is now a need for all concerned to understand the sensitivity of the issue. The government, he said, must take appropriate steps to avoid any bloodshed and any other serious incidents occurring. For peace and harmony in the country, any incitement to hatred during TV debates must be either halted or moderated as soon as possible before the majority reacts violently on the strength of their stirred up and heightened emotions, as fundamentalists have already threatened to kill.

      New developments have see matters turn yet more serious as a new alliance of the religious groups has been formed against the release of Aasia Bibi and to stop any amendments in the blasphemy law. Lawyers have submitted a petition to the High Court to bar the president Asif Ali Zardari from pardoning Aasia. The High Court has accepted the petition and has barred the President from exercising this authority.

      The High Minister for Minority Affairs has issued a statement promising to bring about changes with the consultation of religious leaders, Islamic scholars, politicians, rights campaigners and members of the minority communities.

      Mr Saeed has said that the situation has grown increasingly serious and, in view of the history, heightened tensions and the necessity to safeguard the peace and reach a just solution, any public incitement to hatred must be curtailed whether it is on television or otherwise.

      He said: “I never expected such a horrific situation to arise out of the issue of amending the blasphemy law but we don’t want bloodshed in the country. We will continue our struggles for the release of Aasia Bibi and changes in the blasphemy law with the help of the international community and through diplomatic channels.

      Related Videos:

      News Beat with Meher Bokhari Sep 10 , 2010 SAMAA TV: Meher Bokhari inciting violence against Pakistani Minorities. She and Maulana Ahmed Ludhianvi provoking and suggesting Muslim community to take law in their own hand.

      How dangerous propaganda is being made to justify the Blasphemy Law.

      Hamid Mir is showing his true colours of being a leading religious extremist anchor as he has invited two other guests of his own denomination and breed in his TV talk show about Blasphemy Laws. Justice (Rtd) Tariq Mahmood is the only voice of enlightenment, demythologization and sanity in this programme, which both other guests are finding difficult to bear.

      Mushtaq Minhas another prominent hate campaigner.

      December 4, 2010

      In Pakistan, Christianity Earns a Death Sentence -by Omar Waraich

      by admin

      Governor Salman Taseer’s wife Amina Taseer and daughter Shahar Bano listening Asia Bibi's sad story and expressing concern and sympathy to her.

      It all began a year and a half ago, with a quarrel over a bowl of water. A group of women farm workers were suffering in the heat near a village in Pakistans Punjab province. Aasia Noreen, an illiterate 45-year-old mother five, offered them water, but was rebuffed. Noreen was a Christian, they said, and therefore her water was uncleansadly, a common taunt hurled at Pakistan’s beleaguered Christians. But rather than swallowing the indignity, she mounted a stout defense of her faith.
      Word of the exchange swiftly filtered through the village of Ittan Wali, in Sheikhupura district. The local mullah took to his mosque’s loudspeakers, exhorting his followers to take action against Noreen. In a depressingly familiar pattern, her defense of her faith was twisted into an accusation of blasphemy, according to her family and legal observers familiar with the case. As a frenzied mob pursued her, the police intervened, taking her into custody. But far from protecting her, they arrested and charged Noreen with insulting Islam and its prophet. And on Nov. 8, after enduring 18 months in prison, she was sentenced to death by a district court, making her the first woman to suffer that fate.

      In the ensuing weeks, the case of Noreen, popularly known as Aasia Bibi, has sparked a national furor. Human rights campaigners and lawyers have denounced the sentence. Religious fundamentalist groups, usually at odds with one another, have suddenly coalesced around a campaign to defend the blasphemy law and attack its critics. One politician who called for Noreen to be pardoned now faces a fatwa for alleged apostasy. Another politician, who is trying to have the blasphemy laws amended, has been warned that she will be besieged. On television, religious scholars have disagreed among themselves over the law’s merits. Divisions are also being seen within the government, with powerful figures taking opposing sides. And there has even been global outrage, with Pope Benedict XVI last week calling for Noreen’s freedom.
      Noreen’s case has spurred the first genuine debate over some of Pakistans most controversial laws. The original blasphemy law was drawn up by the British, in the Indian Penal Code of 1860, aimed at keeping the peace among the subcontinent’s sometimes fractious diversity of faiths. Not only did Pakistan inherit the laws after partition, but it added to them. In the 1980s, General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq’s military dictatorship introduced a slew of elastically worded clauses, including a death sentence for those deemed to have defiled the sacred name of the Prophet.

      Before Zia, there were only two reported cases of blasphemy. Since the death sentence was inserted in 1986, the number has soared to 962 — including 340 members of the Ahmadi Muslim sect, 119 Christians, and 14 Hindus. Close examination of the cases reveals the laws often being invoked to settle personal vendettas, or used by Islamist extremists as cover to persecute religious minorities.

      Vague wording allows the blasphemy laws to be used an instrument of political and social coercion, says Ali Dayan Hasan, senior South Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch. And they give the state a sectarian character.

      No conclusive evidence has been presented against Noreen, say people familiar with the case. The district judge relied on the testimonies of three other women, all of whom bore animus toward her.

      Noreen had long been under pressure by fellow farmworkers to convert to Islam, her family says. And the district judge ruled out any possibility of her innocence or mitigating circumstances.
      Christians are subject to vicious prejudice in Pakistan, where there beliefs are said to make them “unclean.” Municipalities routinely advertise jobs for cleaners with a note saying they would prefer Christian applicants. And defending their rights is not popular.

      When Salmaan Taseer, the governor of Punjab, visited Noreen in prison and urged her release, he was branded an apostate by fundamentalist groups. And in the fundamentalist view, apostasy, like blasphemy, is punishable by death.
      Liberal lawmaker Sherry Rehman who has called for amendment of the blasphemy laws and removal of the death sentence clause was warned this week that she would be “besieged.” It is a measure of the state’s impotence in the face of extremist groups that such high-profile public figures can be openly threatened for merely advocating human rights, says Hasan, of Human Rights Watch.
      Rehman insists that she won’t be cowed by the threats. “I really can’t be coerced into silencing myself like this,” she tells TIME. “It’s my freedom as a legislator to do as I do. If they want to talk, there’s no issue. But to use coercion is unacceptable.” Taseer, a notably outspoken politician, is phlegmatic. “It doesnt bother me,” he tells TIME. “Who the hell are these illiterare maulvis to decide to whether I’m a Muslim or not?”

      Rehman’s reform effort is unlikely to succeed, because few politicians have dared to support it. Indeed, Babar Awan, the Law Minister has vowed to oppose any move against the blasphemy laws. What’s more, the Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, who had last year suggested the laws should be reviewed after the killing of nine Christians in Punjab, now seems to be distancing himself. “It is not our party policy,” he told a news channel this week, when asked about Rehman’s bill. But Rehman, who spent years fighting laws that discriminate against women, says its mere submission is an important first step: “The first stone has been cast. It’s not a taboo subject anymore to be taken up by legislators.”

      More worrying is the fate of Noreen. The Lahore High Court has taken the controversial step of saying that it won’t allow President Asif Ali Zardari to issue a pardon, a move that legal experts have said is unconstitutional. Her family is now hoping that the higher courts will strike down the death sentence, or that she will eventually secure a pardon. And the fear doesn’t end there. While no one has been executed for blasphemy yet, 32 people — including two judges — have been slain by vigilantes. At Friday prayers this week, Yousef Qureshi, a hardline cleric from the Mohabat Khan mosque in Peshawar, offered a reward of 500,000 rupees ($5,800) to “those who kill Aasia Bibi.”

      Even if pardoned, Rehman notes grimply, Noreen will no longer be able to to live in her community. For her own safety, she will have to be moved — simply for defending her right to choose her own faith.

      Source: TIME

      December 4, 2010

      Asia Bibi, lawyers working to expose the false testimonies

      by admin

      To expose the false witnesses, highlighting the “castle of liars” that accuses Asia Bibi; to demonstrate the failures of the police and the conditions suffered by the judge who in the first instance issued the death sentence. Lawyers of Asia Bibi told Fides that this is the defensive line they are adopting in preparation for the appeal process, pending the first hearing in the High Court of Lahore.

      The new investigation sponsored by the defence, lawyers told Fides, will demonstrate that the two female “eyewitnesses” for the indictment of Asia, were not at all present at the time of the controversy when the blasphemous insults would have been generated. Moreover, the trial papers, which Fides had the opportunity to consult, show an imaginary “public confession” that Asia Bibi would have released, upon which the verdict of the death sentence is based. This, too, notes the defence, “is a gross untruth” to be denounced in the appeal process. Investigations conducted by law enforcement officers in charge of the case were also “driven” and “in one direction”.

      On behalf of the Masihi Foundation based in London and Lahore – the only NGO that is truly giving legal assistance and taking care of Asia Bibi’s family – lawyers are proceeding with charges of false witness against those who contributed to the conviction of Asia and asking for substantial damages.

      Today, on these dynamics that characterize the accusers of blasphemy, Rana Sanaullah, Minister of law of the Province of Punjab, spoke publicly, stating that “in cases like this of false witnesses, once proof of bad faith has been established, the same penalty should be imposed as that suffered by the innocent victims of false charges.”

      Meanwhile there is now another victim of the blasphemy law. It is young Muslim, Muhammad Amin, a Pakistani blogger in the city of Bahawalpur, province of Sindh. The young man had posted material considered blasphemous to the Prophet Muhammad on his blog and exchanged it with a friend, who was also charged. A police officer noticed it by chance, and thus the complaint and the arrest were triggered.

      The incident confirms that the controversial “blasphemy law” – the subject of intense debate in Pakistani society – has spread its tentacles even to the web. Back in June, the Ministry of Information Technology had expanded the crime of blasphemy to the Internet, placing at scrutiny Facebook, Google, Yahoo and Youtube, but also Amazon, MSN, Hotmail, and Bing, causing a storm of reprimands and imposing very strong restrictions (see Fides 26/6/2010). A task force of inspectors is responsible for monitoring the web browsers available to Pakistanis, who may be accused and arrested for blasphemy.

      Source: FIDES

      Follow

      Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

      Join 75 other followers