Pak minorities' alliance call for check on country's blasphemy law

Islamabad, Pakistan - The All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA) has appealed to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan to take suo motto action against the alarming misuse of the blasphemy laws against minorities in the country.

APMA chairman, Shahbaz Bhatti said there have been several instances when blasphemy cases have been registered against minorities without any investigation or evidence.

Bhatti cited the example of Martha Bibi, a Christian woman from Kasur, against whom the Changa Manga police in Patoki tehsil, registered a blasphemy case under Section 295C-PPC, earlier this month, and that too without any investigation or solid evidence.

He said that the blasphemy case against Bibi was totally baseless and concocted.

He said the wording of the law was vague and open-ended, and thus open to interpretation and abuse, and now the hardliners and the extremists were taking advantage of this to persecute, victimise and terrorise religious minorities and opponents.

He said the "law was a naked sword hanging on the heads of non-Muslims in Pakistan".

He said religious minorities were being roped in false cases under the blasphemy law, and many were subjected to extra-judicial killing or were left to languish in prisons for years.

Families of victims were compelled to leave their homes due to threats, harassment and a sense of insecurity, he said.

"Religious extremists took the law into their own hands and did not even wait for the judicial verdict. Judgments of superior courts had proved that the blasphemy law was being ruthlessly abused for settling personal scores and used for religious persecution," the Dawn quoted him as saying.

He said that the blasphemy law violated Article 25 of the Constitution and was also against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

"Religious minorities respect all Holy Prophets and Holy Books; they can never commit acts that make their own lives miserable," he said.

"The law was hampering the efforts to promote interfaith harmony, national unity and dialogue among different faiths and encouraged religious bigotry, obscurantism and was strengthening religious extremists to indulge in violence in the name of religion. The government should take concrete and practical steps to stop the misuse of the blasphemy law and that its existence and of other discriminatory laws were hurdles in making Pakistan an enlightened and moderate state," he added.

As such the Supreme Court should repeal it and order the set up of a judicial commission to review pending cases pertaining to the blasphemy laws and release all innocent prisoners immediately, Bhatti added.