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Blasphemy Law a Wedge on Pakistan U.S Relationship

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United States added Pakistan on its annual watch list for its severe religious freedom violations two weeks earlier. According to this list Pakistan ranks fifth out of 50 most dangerous countries in the world for Christian persecution.

In this Sunni majority country religious minorities are harassed using blasphemy law threat, said Daniel Mark who is the chairman of U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Two months ago a minority group known as Ahmadis, confronted judicial violence in the name of ‘opposing blasphemy’.

Blasphemy Law a Wedge on Pakistan U.S Relationship

President Trump froze USAID over 200 million dollars used for security purpose on the same day when Open Doors issued its annual lists of 50 most dangerous countries of the world for minority religious freedom violations. According to the State Department, Pakistan remained unsuccessful in eradicating Islamic militant organizations creating terror in the country. Even in U.S. troops are having war with Taliban in Afghanistan.

According to some critics harsh blasphemy law in Pakistan make religious beliefs to penetrate in legislation.
Pervez Hoodbhoy who is a political analyst said, “For three decades, Pakistan’s military establishment has stoutly denied supporting violent religious groups, but today the military’s attitude is more ambivalent.”

A cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi who belongs to Barelvi movement, led a procession in the capital city of Pakistan over altering the parliament oath manner and gave it the name of blasphemy. The activists made Law Minister Zahid Hamid to resign for making this alteration in the oath. Six protestors died in this rally. Later military negotiated with them to unblock the main highway of Islamabad. Since religion is a sensitive issue in Pakistan and government hesitates to challenge such issues directly.

Mumtaz Qadri another follower of Barelvi movement, who killed Governor of Punjab Salman Taseer for opposing blasphemy law, was sentenced to death. His death highlighted the Blasphemy issue in the country and reactivated the Barelvi movement, said Hoodbhoy.

Tehreek-e-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah the political party of cleric Rizvi is expected to be in parliament after July elections.

Attending U.S general assembly, Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said, “The job of the government is to make sure that the laws are not abused and innocent people are not prosecuted or persecuted.”

Blasphemy law was introduced under British rule according to that law the maximum punishment was for two years of prison. Later in the Gen. Zia ul Haq regime when Islamic movement revived strict law was devised for violation and blasphemy of the holy Quran.

According to U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom 40 people are in jails either sentenced to death or sentenced to serving life due to blasphemy law.

According to National Commission for Justice and Peace report since 1987, 633 Muslims, 494 Ahmadis, 187 Christians and 21 Hindus are charged for blasphemy.

A recent blasphemy victim is Asia Bibi, a Christian woman in the death row since 2010.

In most cases blasphemy law is abused or used as revenge in nonreligious quarrels for dominating over religious minorities.

Another Christian identified as Nadeem James, 35 years of age, sentenced to death for sharing an anti Islamic literature with his friend on social media in Gujrat last year in September.

In May a mentally retarded person was brutally beaten by a mob for speaking blasphemous remarks in a mosque in Chitral and charged him under blasphemy and terrorism case.

Ahmad Waqass Goraya a blogger said that the blasphemy law is used to humiliate people and their families in the society. And they spend their whole life in harassment from extremists in their own country.