A Pakistani organization’s report confirms what the global press has widely reported. What is noteworthy is that the Jinnah Institute report does go so far as to call for the repeal of Pakistan’s blasphemy law; the institute is headed by Sherry Rehman, who narrowly dodged blasphemy charges herself simply for criticizing the law and calling for its reform. Like the late Salman Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti, who were assassinated for similarly “blaspheming” the blasphemy law, she is also under a death fatwa.
Unfortunately, as this report notes, the institute calls for either repealing it or removing “all vague terminology to prevent its misuse.” There is one problem: there is no “right” way to implement a law that is inherently unjust and deliberately targeted at dissent, freedom of speech, and freedom of conscience. And as long as it is on the books, it will be used as a weapon to settle scores and frighten religious minorities into submission, no matter how the language is edited.
A law that is so inherently abusive can only be “misused.” It is an abuse simply in that it continues to exist. “Pakistan government failing on minorities, report says,” by Shahzeb Jillani for BBC News, June 7 (thanks to Glynn):
Pakistan’s government is failing to protect the country’s religious minorities, a new report says.
The rising tide of vigilante violence and extremism is threatening Christians, Hindus and Ahmedis, the report by the Jinnah Institute said.
The assassinations of two prominent advocates of minority rights this year had led to an atmosphere of fear and intimidation, it added.
The report warned extremists posed a serious threat to Pakistan’s stability.
The 70-page report, entitled “A Question of Faith”, was released on Tuesday by the Asian Human Rights Commission.
The Jinnah Institute think-tank is headed by the former information minister and a parliamentarian belonging to the governing Pakistan Peoples’ Party, Sherry Rehman.
The report criticises President Zardari’s government for backing off from repealing, or even discussing, the country’s controversial blasphemy law.
It documents growing incidents of mob violence against minority groups and provides examples of abductions and forced conversions of minority women.
The report calls for repealing the country’s controversial blasphemy law and urges the government to urgently undertake political and judicial reforms to ensure equality for Muslims and non-Muslim citizens of Pakistan.