Blasphemy law not being misused against minorities: Interior Minister

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Government of Pakistan has denied the perception that blasphemy law is being used to target religious minorities in Pakistan. In this regard the Interior Minister of Pakistan Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan asserted that the belief that religious minorities in Pakistan are suffering because of abuse of blasphemy laws is not true.

Blasphemy cases in Pakistan

Interior Minister further asserted that facts and figures do not support this belief. In response to a question by People’s Party’ lawmaker Begum Hasnain; he said that facts and figures reveal that in most of the cases the respondents of blasphemy were Muslims. He detailed the data from the Sindh province and told the House that there were 129 cases of blasphemy registered in total. Out of these 99 cases were registered against Muslims; which makes it 76% of the total instances.

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He continued that these facts point towards the fact that religious minorities are not being embroiled in blasphemy cases more than Muslims themselves. “Religious minorities are not being affected by the blasphemy laws,” he stated.

Chaudhry Nisar further revealed the facts and figures provided by the governments of Kybher Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit Baltistan. He said that in keeping with recent data, no blasphemy cases were reported from Gilgiit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He said that in this connection there is no record of FIRs in the police stations of the said provinces.

On the other hand, Senate’s Committee on Human Rights has unanimously agreed to bring about a change in the blasphemy legislation in order to prevent the misuse of blasphemy laws. In keeping with the Committee’s recommendations; police officers lower than the rank of Superintendents of Police (SPs) will not be allowed to investigate into the blasphemy cases. Moreover, the Committee has also recommended for the option of bail to be available for the respondent in blasphemy charges.

Recently a statement was issued by Senator Farhat Ullah Babar saying that Senate’s committee on Human Rights was all set to take up debate on the inevitable issues of how to prevent the misuse of blasphemy laws in the country. He stated that Senate’s Committee will start discussions on blasphemy laws soon.

He said that this discussion will be centered around the recommendations contained in a report which is 24 years old. He further asserted that this will be the first time ever, when a parliamentary body will be considering a formal proposal on how to prevent the misuse of the blasphemy laws.

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