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ICC Note:

Naeem Shakir, human right lawyer who represented Asia Bibi before the Lahore High Court, has urged the international community to put pressure on Pakistan to release Asia Bibi and reform the country’s controversial blasphemy laws. Shakir claimed Pakistan is unable to have a dialogue about the blasphemy laws and reform is unlikely to come from within. Will the world rally to save Asia Bibi and help reform Pakistan’s blasphemy laws? 

12/10/2014 Pakistan (Christians in Pakistan) – Naeem Shakir, human-rights lawyer who is Asia Bibi’s defense counsel has strongly denounced the blasphemy law under which Asia has been sentenced to death. According to him the law is being used as the “tool of oppression.” Naeem Shakir, urged the international community to pressurize the Pakistani authorities to reform the law. “Sharing your concern from wherever you are is important,” he said, because “no change is forthcoming, due to the unavailability of any kind of dialogue. . . We do not find anywhere to seriously deliberate these issues.”

He went on to say, “Political actors are not concerned . . . to deliver justice. . . . They do not want to distress their constituencies by disturbing the religious extremists. There was now,” he said, “a wrong public impression, created by vested interests, that this law is . . . divinely mandated”, whereas it had been “framed by earthly men” and did a disservice to Islam, undermining the “basic principles of Islamic jurisprudence”.

As a man-made law, it was “not static”, and could be reformed. “This law is flawed. This law is against the Qur’an and a tool of oppression.” The death penalty for blasphemy was recommended in Pakistani law in 1986. He went on to argue that as for those who present argument that, without the blasphemy law, people would take justice into their own hands, he said: “People are already doing that.” He pointed to the case of a Christian couple beaten and burned alive in a brick kiln in November after they were accused of blasphemy.

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