Updated: Asma Jahangir’s SCBA on blasphemy law: ye dagh dagh ujala

In a unanimous resolution today, SCBA warned government against pardoning Aasia Bibi. The meeting was chaired by the SCBA president Asma Jahangir .


Later addressing a press conference, Ms Jahangir criticised the government’s performance and its failure to enunciate clear a policy on key issues.

Now that Ms Jahangir has shown the PPP government a glaring example of how to enunciate a clear policy on key issues, the government must drop all proposals to amend the blasphemy law?

In Faiz’s words, is this the dagh dagh ujala (leprous daybreak) which we long looked for? Is it the clear dawn in quest of which those comrades set out, believing that in heaven’s wide void, somewhere must be the stars’ last halting-place, somewhere the verge of night’s slow-washing tide, somewhere an anchorage for the ship of heartache?

The news item

The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), on Saturday, passed a unanimous resolution demanding that the government refrain from making any changes to blasphemy laws or pardoning Aasia Bibi.

Aasia is a Christian woman who was sentenced to death after being convicted by a lower court. She is currently being held at the Sheikhupura jail.

The SCBA body, in the resolution, called alleged government initiaives to amend or repeal the blasphemy laws “a shameful effort being made under a foreign agenda, which is strongly condemnable”. The text of the resolution read, “In no circumstances, any amendment encouraging or creating any effort to defile the sacred name and personality of Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) can be brought in the statute book.”

The committee, through a unanimous vote, warned the government and members of the Parliament to refrain from implementing any such proposal.

The SCBA and the legal fraternity will never accept any such pardon or amendment and would resist them, the resolution carried by the SCBA body added. The members also expressed concern over Punjab governor’s attempts to get a presidential pardon for Aasia while an appeal is pending before the high court.

The resolution was passed in a meeting chaired by the SCBA president and former chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Asma Jahangir. Sanaullah Zahid, the SCBA Finance secretary moved the resolution.

When Zahid moved the resolution, the president pointed out that it was not on the agenda to which Zahid said, “There have been times when you have moved resolutions not on the agenda”. Jahangir was then told by the finance secretary that she had the right to dissent “though it will be carried by the majority”. The president chose not to exercise the right.

The meeting was attended by SCBA secretary, Qamar Zaman Qureshi; Sindh vice president (VP), KA Wahab; Punjab VP, Zubair Khalid; Balochistan VP, Jahanzeb Khan Jadoon; finance secretary, Sanaullah Zahid; additional secretary, Muhammad Saleheen; and 16 members of its executive committee.

The Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) has already carried a similar resolution. A group of LHCBA members is also holding daily protests in front of the Lahore High Court building against any moves to amend the blasphemy laws.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 19th, 2010.

Faiz Ahmed Faiz: Subh-e-Azadi

English translation by V.G. Kiernan

This leprous daybreak, dawn night’s fangs have mangled –
This is not that long-looked-for break of day,

Not that clear dawn in quest of which those comrades
Set out, believing that in heaven’s wide void

Somewhere must be the stars’ last halting-place,
Somewhere the verge of night’s slow-washing tide,
Somewhere an anchorage for the ship of heartache.

When we set out, we friends, taking youth’s secret
Pathways, how many hands plucked at our sleeves!

From beauty’s dwellings and their panting casements

Soft arms invoked us, flesh cried out to us;
But dearer was the lure of dawn’s bright cheek,

Closer her shimmering robe of fairy rays;
Light-winged that longing, feather-light that toil.

But now, word goes, the birth of day from darkness
Is finished, wandering feet stand at their goal;

Our leaders’ ways are altering, festive looks
Are all the fashion, discontent reproved; –

And yet this physic still on unslaked eye
Or heart fevered by severance works no cure.

Where did that fine breeze, that the wayside lamp
Has not once felt, blow from — where has it fled?

Night’s heaviness is unlessened still, the hour
Of mind and spirit’s ransom has not struck;
Let us go on, our goal is not reached yet.

Update: According to some (unpublished) reports , Asma Jahangi has denied the reports published in several papers today that the SCBA passed a ‘resolution’ condemning any efforts to discuss, debate or change the ‘blasphemy law’ (Lawyers to lawmakers: Supreme Court Bar wants no changes to blasphemy laws)and sent the following clarification to all the media,


This is to deny that the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) in its second executive committee meeting held on 18 December 2010 unanimously passed any resolution regarding either section 295 C of the Pakistan Penal Code itself or any case related to it. The facts are that a resolution to that effect was presented by a member of the executive committee but only apportion of it was passed unanimously, which paid reverence and commitment to honour and respect the name of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), while the rest of the resolution regarding 295 C, the case of Aasia Bibi and its consequences was deferred with consensus. The Supreme Court Bar Association regrets the attempt made by one of its executive members to mislead the press and the public. The SCBA is a responsible body and its resolutions will be fully debated before being passed especially unanimously.”(Journeys to Democracy)

Thanks to a fellow blogger for posting the clarification in the comments section, though in my personal view, it would have been much more appreciable if in addition to paying “reverence and commitment to honour and respect the name of the Holy Prophet (PBUH)” the unanimous portion of the resolution also included a commitment to support the minorities rights in Pakistan and a commitment to resist the increasing mullah-cracy.

In the meanwhile, let us celebrate the deferment of certain portion of the resolution.


Update 2: Here is an example of the real way forward from today’s Jang newspaper. (PS: Someone please confirm if these ‘kafirs’ have converted to the pure version of Islam? Because the situation for them may become rather precarious if they converted to the ‘wrong’ sect.)




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