Blasphemy law and hate crime


Mohammad Jamil
JOURNALIST Naila Inayat is Pakistan Correspondent
for Associated Reporters Abroad, USA, and also
contributes to Daily Mail and other distinguished newspapers. She narrated plight of the minorities in Pakistan conveniently ignoring the death and destruction caused by Hindu extremists organizations in India. On 16th January 2018, a column titled “Pakistan’s Harsh Blasphemy Laws Deepen Feud with US” written by Ms. Naila Inayat was published in The Washington Times. Among other points, she highlighted that minorities such as Ahmadi’s, Christians, Hindus etc. are being abused in Pakistan, but never mentioned about the plight of minorities in India either in her articles or tweets. The author wrote: “Harsh laws forbidding blasphemy against Islam are dividing Pakistani society, and driving a deeper wedge between Islamabad and Washington during a bitter feud over war in neighboring Afghanistan.”
In fact, US imperialistic policy is responsible for strained relations between the US and Pakistan, because the US does not wish to see peace in Afghanistan to justify its existence for an indefinite period. Despite the fact Pakistan has decimated the terrorist network in Pakistan and suffered enormously in men and material, the US blames Islamabad for its failure to crack down on Islamist terrorist networks operating in the country, and that it is supporting, among others, the Taliban movement battling the US-backed government in Afghanistan. The fact remains that after Soviet forces entered Afghanistan, what they said, on the request of the Afghan government under the treaty signed between the then Soviet Union and Afghanistan, the US and the West supported the jihadi groups and warlords to resist the Soviet forces. They had supported the terrorist activities of Osama bin Laden who was their find and was projected as a legend that left luxurious life to fight the infidels.
Naila Inayat then referred to protest and sit-in by Khadim Hussain rizvi over the amendment in regard to oath of the assembly members, and wrote: “Lawmakers restored the original wording of the oath, but the protesters demanded the resignation of Law Minister Zahid Hamid. He resigned, and the Pakistani military negotiated an end to the blockade of the main highway into Islamabad. Six died in the protests. Rizvi’s party has been growing since 2016, when authorities executed Mumtaz Qadri, a former police officer who assassinated Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer in 2011 for his opposition to the country’s blasphemy laws.” A great majority of Pakistanis are opposed to terrorism and extremism in its every form and manifestation; and whenever terrorists kill members of minority community or Muslims, they condemn those acts vociferously. This is reflective of fact that by and large Pakistan is a tolerant society.
The fact of the matter is that there is no difference between a suicide bomber and the assassinator of Salman Taseer, since both have a tendency to kill people in the name of religion. To find similarities between Malik Mumtaz Qadri and Ghazi Ilm Din Shaheed reflects the inability of the so-called rights activists and writers to see things in the right perspective. Ghazi Ilm Din had killed a blasphemer when British courts were unable to punish him for writing a hate-mongering and blasphemous book. In fact, after this incidence British government had introduced the clause of imprisonment for punishing those who hurt the religious feelings of others. However, Mumtaz Qadri killed a person when the strictest blasphemy law was there in Pakistan he should not have taken the law in his own hands. In Islam, only the state can declare jihad, and punish those who conduct acts of blasphemy.
So far as the importance of blasphemy law is concerned, there is no denying the fact that a law dealing with blasphemy issues is inevitable to save a society from civil war like situation. For that very reason, British government had enacted a similar law in the Sub-continent in 1860, and amended it with imprisonment clause for blasphemers in 1927 soon after Ghazi Ilm Din Shaheed’s incident. However, the disputed point regarding blasphemy law in Pakistan between the divided sections is not blasphemy law itself but only its death penalty clause, which was inserted into law by General Zia-ul-Haq. Anyhow, Zia’s amended blasphemy law is unfortunately being misused than to be a useful jurisprudence for prevention of blasphemy incidences. Thus efforts should be made to prevent the misuse of the law as suggested by renowned religious scholar Javed Ahmed Ghamidi.
The US and so-called liberals do not see that minorities in India are groaning under repression by the brute Hindu majority and followers of all religions are being subjected to inhuman treatment. Muslims, Christians and Dalits are not allowed to lead their lives according to their beliefs, traditions and culture. Human Watch reports also point out about the violence against 170 million former untouchables and millions belonging to other minorities. Human rights organizations regularly publish reports about atrocities committed on Christians, Muslims and Dalits; Kashmiris are, however, the worst sufferers on earth. Post-Babri Masjid incident more than 2000 Muslims were killed in Gujarat riots. Earlier, in June 1984, Indian army had attacked the Golden Temple with tanks and armored cars killing more than 2000 Sikhs. Despite condemnation of violence by Pope Benedict and Italian government’s reaction, Christians were forced to change their religion in Orissa.
—The writer is a senior journalist based in Lahore.

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