Shamim editorializes about the injustice of Pakistan’s Blasphemy Law and how it is often used by Sunni Muslims to settle personal scores not only with Christians but the other minorities that exist in Pakistan.
Protection and Promotion of Rights of Expression
By Shamim Masih
Sent: 10/10/2014 11:40 PM
ISLAMABAD: It is heard since August, 2011 that a National Commission will be established for the protection of the rights of the minorities in Pakistan to promote interfaith harmony among different sects. But nothing is seen in practical. Now we heard the echo to [the] establishment of the Minority Rights Commission. Before establishing these commissions, let’s consider the working and output of the Ministry of National Harmony or Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Pakistan.
First of all, the State and the Constitution should provide the basics of faith to its citizens. Minorities should be given equal rights and not to be made victims of discrimination at any level. Unfortunately the gap between Muslims and the minorities’ groups had widened to a great extent. Various religious groups are living in their respective pigeon holes and it is a dangerous trend. We need to develop Minority Rights Commission for interfaith harmony but it is impossible without justice and equality in the society as peace should not be promoted without it. [The] Constitution of the country was not based on inter-faith harmony.
During the last three decades, religious minorities are desperately disheartened due the prevailing situation in the country. Especially Sunni Muslims and other extremist group are targeting religious minorities Christians, Hindu and Ahmadis’. And this ratio has been incredibly increased during the recent years. Targeting and burning the Christians’ colonies is becoming habitual. Thus Pakistan has become one of the most obsessive countries in the world. According to the figures presented during United Nations Human Rights Council 25th session; between year 2012-13, more than 700 people were killed and more than 1100 injured because of religion – related violence. At least 16 people are facing the death penalty in Pakistan for blasphemy, and 20 are serving life sentences.
In that report presented to [the] United Nations; Pakistan was declared one of the most hostile nations for religious minorities in the world and countries to violate many of its citizens’ right to freedom of religion or belief. You will hear on every other day that someone [is] being charged of blasphemy and there are the judges on duty to award [a] death sentence to such people when the charges are proven. Everyone is aware in the country that the blasphemy law has often been used for settling personal scores.
Let me give you the short history of the blasphemy law; this law was enacted by the British to protect the religious sentiments of the Muslims minorities in the subcontinent against the Hindu majority. After the partition, when [the] Muslims have become majority, the law should have been abolished. But it was made more stringent. Life imprisonment was replaced with the mandatory death penalty in the section 295-C.
There is need to promote interfaith harmony, but [the] state minister for interfaith harmony is only seen in [the] papers. It is only sharing about Hajj issues in Pakistan. Establishment of [the] “Minority Rights Commissions at National and Provincial’ level is seen but in [the] papers only. Fact is [the] situation [is] worsening for religious minorities day by day, because disharmony is based in the Constitution of Pakistan. There is need to bring [an] amendment in the constitution along with revising the educational syllabus to highlight the role of minorities’ groups in the struggle for Pakistan. Our history has been twisted badly and the innocent minds were never provided with correct information. But now the time has come that [the] new generation should be provided real facts through education and legislation.
In our country, protection and promotion of rights expression is [the] dare need of the day. We are lacking of leadership that will come to reduce these issues in the country. We have to take collective efforts and rise to resolve the issues of the minorities of the country. Unfortunately our local Christian political leadership is not taking up these issues seriously and collectively. Some political leaders are using their resources to get seats in the main stream political parties. This electoral system and [the] influential have divided our Christian people in the name of politics and religion. Thus the situation has become alarming for religious minorities. Home, life and property, the synagogues are not secure and [a] series of incidents [are] conducted.
Yes! We are facing terrorism, energy crises, and unemployment collectively as a nation but there are some forces within state, threatening all religious minorities of the country. Yes! We want to live with brotherhood, sympathy, peace and social harmony. But there are some barbaric discriminatory laws [that] reeks of [a] medieval mentality. We need to start [to] behave like rational human beings with [the] ability to critically analyze things rather than behaving like savage and barbaric animals.
Human Rights Activist
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Edited by John R. Houk
Text enclosed by brackets are by the editor.
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© Shamim Masih