Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy law makes headlines every now and then. People are accused of blasphemy on even petty issues. In Punjab alone, Dawn has reported 262 cases of alleged blasphemous behavior.
Father James Channan who is the director of Peace centre in Lahore and regularly consulted by the government on interfaith initiatives, says although the government has been working to introduce some amendments to the law there are many parties who oppose any change and want the law to be as it is.
Father Channan said, “We wonder where justice is? Why is punishment not given to arsonists in the Joseph Colony case?”
He also recognizes the fact “many progressive Muslims organizations and prayer leaders [and] imams [who] condemn such acts of vandalism and visit the Christians colonies and Christians and express their sympathies and solidarity with them. These Muslim leaders are promoters of peace and harmony.”
To name one of the few we can mention Maulana Abdul Khabir Azad, and president Ulema Council Hafiz Tahir Mehmood Ashrafti, who have stood up publicly to condemn any acts of violence or any attacks on Christians.
Father Channan also mentioned that after the Dhupp Sarri incident, Mulana Azad took serious action, contacted him and remained on the site of the incident until 3 am. He also meets government officials to amend the law as no body should suffer from injustice. “I take it as a proper move and step of Mualana Azad to stop misuse of these laws,” said Father Channan.
If the amendments do materialize, the new law will make it vital to show intent behind act of blasphemy.