As Pakistan celebrated its 70th birthday, 24 Members of Parliament in the U.K. called on Pakistan to repeal the country’s notorious blasphemy laws. Often cited as a tool of discrimination and persecution, Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are among the world’s most deadly and widely abused. False accusations of blasphemy are often leveled against innocent people to settle person scores or incite religious hatred. Mass communal violence often follows an accusation of blasphemy, especially when a religious minority is being accused. Will Pakistan take steps to repeal these blasphemy laws?
08/17/2017 Pakistan (Pakistan Christian Post) – While Pakistan celebrated the 70th anniversary of the creation of their nation, British politicians urged the President and the Prime Minister to repeal the blasphemy laws of Pakistan that have been a tool for discrimination.
24 British MP’s including Jim Shannon of the DUP, who is Chairman of both the All Parliamentary Party Group on International Religious Freedom, and the APPG for Pakistani Minorities and long term BPCA friend Lord Alton.
The blasphemy laws of Pakistan were introduced by the British in 1860 in response to persecution of Muslims by the Hindu majority during the British Raj. The laws had a maximum sentence of 6 months or a small fine and provided protection to people of all faiths.
During the 1980’s, under dictator General Zia-ul-Haq, the blasphemy laws took a more aggressive Islamist form yet by the time of his final reform in 1986 only 10 blasphemy convictions had been passed. Since then the blasphemy convictions have reached their thousands in a very short space of time.
Under Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s patronage, a Second Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan on September 7, 1974, declared Ahmadi Muslims as non-Muslims.
Second amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan: “A person who does not believe in the absolute and unqualified finality of The Prophethood of Muhammad (Peace be upon him), the last of the Prophets or claims to be a Prophet, in any sense of the word or of any description whatsoever, after Muhammad (Peace be upon him), or recognizes such a claimant as a Prophet or religious reformer, is not a Muslim for the purposes of the Constitution or law.”
In 1986, it was supplemented by a new blasphemy provision Section 295c of the Pakistani Penal Code which also applied to Ahmadi Muslims.
The Pakistani government by refusing to amend or repeal the blasphemy laws have made themselves ostensibly complicit in the persecution of non-Sunni religious minorities, including other Muslim sects, Christians and Hindus.