Pakistan: Appeal hearing has been cancelled today again in the case of Asia Bibi, the Christian mother of five sentenced to death for blasphemy.The judges avoid the responsibility of deciding what to do with such a delicate case.
We have concerns about those who are languishing in jails due to their faith including Asia Bibi and innocent Sawan Masih but the mob of extremists who burnt Christian homes including Churches in Bedami Bagh,Lahore are walking free without punishment.
Recently,a blasphemy accused,Khalil Ahmed was shot dead on the day of accusation.He was killed by teenage boy while in police detention hours after he was arrested.It was the second murder involving the blasphemy issue within this month.The rights activist Rashid Rehman was also shot dead while he was sitting in his chamber.His murderers have not yet been apprehended despite his having named those who threatened him.It is a country where a judge had to flee abroad after convicting murderer of governor Salmaan Taseer.
In fact, the blasphemy law has become an instrument of persecution and even against those who defending the accused.In 2013,Pakistan became dangerous country for religious minorities.They are moving from Pakistan because they do not think themselves safe in this country.
Indeed, this is now become arguably one of the worst times ever to be a religious minority in Pakistan.We are seeing unprecedented levels of marginalisation and violence against religious minorities in Pakistan under the umbrella of blasphemy law .How we can think about religious liberty ,freedom of thought and expression if there is law which discriminate and that is safeguard of only particularly religion and its faiths;and where no fair trial and unfair detainment just because of having difference of faith.These words are only in written form that we are all born free and equal but reality is different.
The state is stamped with a religion and is constitutionally called Islamic Republic of Pakistan.We Christian and other religious minorities what to do about it? We demand a secular state in which we all can enjoy equal rights and be treated equally before law.We wish to promote peace and religious harmony in Pakistan but how it can be possible under the influence of religious extremists.This is the point which the state has to take seriously.
“We know death is a risk that comes with being a Christian campaigner of against the blasphemy law but we have faith in this “Revelation 2:10 Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life”.We have to work on the streets,not in the best hotels of the town if we wish to save our nation,”said Advocate Sardar Mushtaq Gill,a Human Rights Defender and Chief of LEAD.
Given this balance sheet, the repeal of the blasphemy law is possible only through mass awareness, organised campaigns and galvanising progressive religious leaders for the greater cause of the protection of religious minorities.The state needs to remain neutral and secular in its policies and the state should be secular.