ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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In the Name of God

Pakistan’s blasphemy laws have been condemned and criticised but they remain unchanged and are used to incarcerate and even kill those accused. Many of the complaints are based on made-up evidence and the real causes are personal vendetta or gains. The case of Asia Bibi, a mother who has been on death row for six years, is a classic illustration.

Blasphemy laws in India enacted by the British government sought to curb Hindu–Muslim tensions in the subcontinent as well as prevent “scurrilous” writing. In more recent times, since the rule of General Zia-ul-Haq in Pakistan, the blasphemy law has become a weapon to harass the Ahmadi and other religious minorities in that country and in some cases, an instrument of revenge or petty vendetta. A rising number of such cases are neither properly investigated nor proved to be false and many innocent individuals spend time in jail without legal help and under the threat of death.

Asia Bibi, for example, has spent most of the last six years on death row in solitary confinement in a jail in Multan. Few lawyers were willing to represent her and finally when her appeal came up for hearing in the Pakistan Supreme Court, on 13 October 2016, the matter was adjourned indefinitely. One of the judges, Justice Iqbal Hameed-ur-Rahman, recused himself because of a “conflict of interest.” She is now represented by a senior Supreme Court lawyer who has defended many blasphemy cases. 

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Updated On : 11th Jan, 2017
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