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(ANS) – In the face of a growing international campaign for the repeal of the blasphemy laws and the Hudood Ordinances, the Pakistani Government announced last week that it would introduce a new bill to revise these laws. According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) the draft ‘Criminal Law (Amendment) Act’ will revise the Hudood Ordinances and the blasphemy laws, and criminalize so-called ‘honour’ killings. The bill was drafted with input from the Supreme Court, which has already ruled that ‘honour killings’ should be considered as murder. CSW reports the Government’s move to reform these laws comes after the killings of several Christians in recent months, including Samuel Masih, accused of blasphemy, and Javed Anjum, murdered by maulvis (mullahs) at a madrassah (Islamic school). International pressure has mounted on the Pakistani authorities to take action to curb religious intolerance, and last month President Pervez Musharraf called for ‘scrutiny’ of the blasphemy laws and the Hudood ordinances, and an end to ‘honour killings’.

Mervyn Thomas, CSW’s Chief Executive, welcomed the draft bill, but urged the Pakistani Government to go further. “Hundreds of people of all religions, including Muslims and Christians, have suffered unimaginable injustices and danger as a result of the blasphemy laws and the Hudood ordinances. We are pleased that the Pakistani authorities are now taking steps to address the discrimination, persecution and killings that have resulted from these unjust laws, but we do not believe that the laws can be revised or reformed. We stand with the women and the minorities of Pakistan in urging the Government to completely repeal these laws, and create a new atmosphere of religious freedom and tolerance.”