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Debate on “notorious” blasphemy law continues: NO changes under consideration


Debate on country’s notorious blasphemy law was continued by the Senate Human Rights Committee which decided to proceed on with this debate on the controversial law in the light of the 1991 Senate report, which had made some critical recommendations about the law.

Blasphemy laws in Pakistan

Senate’s Committee decided to shed light on the law on the pretext of the 1991 report after Senator Farhatullah Babar put forth details Senate’s own report regarding the blasphemy law. He suggested that the said report must be considered the starting point of further discussion regarding the blasphemy law. The discussion is intended to find ways of preventing misuse of the blasphemy law.

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At this occasion the Committee Chairperson reiterated that that the discussion is not intended to amend the law itself but only to curb its misuses. During the meeting Senator Kamran Michael who holds the office of the Federal Minister for Human Rights nitpicked that thus far no action has been taken against those who had maliciously leveled false blasphemy accusations against Rimsha Masih a Christian girl.

Additionally, the Jamat-e-Ullema Islami’s Senator Mufti Adbul Sattar asserted that the matter should not be brought under discussion as it is of sensitive nature. Pakistan People’s Party’s Senator Farhatullah Babar briefed the attendees that on November 4, 1991 the Criminal Law (Third Amendment) Bill 1991 seeking binding Capital punishment over blasphemy charges was introduced in the Senate. “The bill was promptly referred to the standing committee on law and justice on that day,” he said.

Senator Frahatullah Babar further said that Raja Zafar ul Haq was heading the Law and Justice Committee then, while the members also included Yahya Bakhtiar, past attorney general among others.

After the meeting while talking to the media Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the 1991 report of the committee had remained unnoticeable for a long time. He further revealed that I.A. Rehman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan had made mention of this report to him, and consequently he started to look for the report and was able to locate it.

He urged that a precarious re-examination of the Section 295-C is compulsory, owing to the reason that this provision did not enjoy the undisputed support and backing from the Islamic scholars of the country.

The Law and Justice Committee in its report had observed that the need for a more precise definition of the crime under section 295 PPC (blasphemy) was inevitable as “in its present form was very generalized,” the committee stated. The 1991 report also revealed that the Law and Justice Committee had questioned as to what specific punishments did Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) or the four Caliphs awarded to the those who had committed blasphemy.

The 1991 report did not include any suggestions or hint of need for amendment in the law- the report is silent over approval or disapproval over the amendments in the blasphemy law. This meeting was chaired by MQM Senator Nasreen Jalil while other attendees included senators Sitara Ayaz, Nisar Muhammad Khan, Dr Jehanzeb Jamaldini, Mohsin Leghari, Mufti Abdul Sattar, Samina Abid Kamran Michael and Farhatullah Babar.