Blasphemy law and the attitude of journalists and anchors – by John Bosco

I watched a programme on Asia Bibi and the amendments in Blasphemy Law on 30th November at News Beat and the programme host was Mehar Bukhari of Samaa TV. It is interesting to note that she has invited 2 senior journalists Saeed Chaudhry and Haroon Rasheed to justify that Blasphemy Law is right, and to criticize the people who are helping Asia Bibi. It is the duty of Anchor to ensure that the defending party should be given equal opportunity to speak his/her point of view. Nevertheless it seems she was failed to provide enough time to Federal Minister Shahbaz Bhatti to clarify the questions, even her character was more critical than others. It was not hidden she favoured her fellow journalist. Don’t you think this is yellow journalism? Biased Anchor?

Secondly Haroon Rasheed doesn’t know how to respect to the most respectable person amongst the Catholic Christian, (POP) and he is also the head of the State. How many times he or any one from you speak about any Muslim leaders? I would salute to Shahbaz Bhatti who listened patiently. I am sure if the similar remark comes from him you would have involved him in another blasphemy case or might be possible he would have killed in the studio.

Prove yourself to be a real Pakistani journalist, understands the realities. Haroon Rasheed said the pardon initiative is taking place under the pressure from Human Rights and Foreign Call. However he forgot the history, all the important issues whether it was a matter of justice to Mukhtarian Bibi, issue of Burning Quran, war in Iraq or Afghanistan are all raised by the foreign countries and NGOs. None of the Muslim countries involved? How many times Saudi Arabia stood with you on any of the above issues? You have to be thankful to the West atleast they help you raise your voices.

As far as raising the voices against Iraq & Afghan wars are concerned, I believe they both do not read English newspapers and watch English news channels, the western countries protested and agitated more than any Islamic Countries. Can anyone give us an example of Saudi Arabia – How many times they have raised these issues? How many Muslim countries raised voice for Afia Siddique’s release? This is only Pakistan who takes the responsibility of whole Muslim countries and these Muslim courtiers do not care what is happening with them.

Mehar has raised 3 or 4 times this question that why the blasphemy matter always raised in the PPP Government. The question is very simple who had the guts and courage to raise the voice at the time of Nawaz and Zia’s government, who were architect of these clauses. As far as Musharaf’s government is concern 75% people were from PML & MMA who were the part of its implementation at the time of Nawaz and Zia’s government.

Asia is a Pakistani and no matter what religion she has?. This is state’s responsibility to protect her. I would like to remind you that 295 B & 295 C were not included in the Pakistan Penal Code until 1986 and Christians live together with the Muslims like brothers and sisters before Pakistan came in 1947. There was no problem until 1986 and since 1927 till 1986 only 7 cases were reported of blasphemy.

It is not hidden from any one that 295 B, 295 C and such clauses were deliberately included in the Pakistan Penal Code to achieve the political support. Pakistan’s late dictator, Gen. Mohammed Zia ul-Haq in order to maintain his Govt, he created Federal Council (Majlis-e-Shura) consisting of such persons as the President may, by Order, determine. This Shura consisted of like minded people as they were selected not elected. As I stated above he needs to protect his seat thus he was on the mercy of their decisions, and the blasphemy law and other Islamic clauses included in the Pakistan Penal Code to gratify them.

In 1986 General Zia revised it again to be more strictly in accordance with the Sharia, and finally in 1992 it was revised again when the death penalty was made mandatory under the democratically-elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. History also showed that his successor Mian Nawaz Sharif ex Prime Minister of Pakistan followed his footsteps.

The October 1990 elections brought the Islamic Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI) into power. In addition to a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly, the alliance acquired control of all the four provincial assemblies and enjoyed the support of the military and the President. Mohammad Nawaz Sharif, as leader of the Pakistan Muslim League, the most prominent party in the IJI, was elected Prime Minister by the national assembly. He emerged as the most secure and powerful Pakistani Prime Minister since the mid-1970s.

The Pakistani Islamic Blasphemy law, Section 295/C of the Pakistan Penal Code, is vague and susceptible to abuse, but carries a mandatory death penalty, with practically no right to bail and is, therefore, inherently oppressive, unjust and unethical. It is widely abused as an instrument for terrorizing political opponents and members of religious minorities, and for settling political, sectarian and petty rivalries. This is nothing less than religious terrorism through the abuse of the state apparatus and the civil law.

Pakistani Christians thought after the Gojra incident false blasphemy cases should be stopped henceforth. However, this is not the case as the culprit behind such pictures never punished? Why they are not punished because of biased anchors and journalists who are behind them.

How can we return Asia’s 2 years which she spent in the Jail?

John Bosco, Independent Writer from London

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