From Shaheed Justice Arif Iqbal Bhatti to Shaheed Salman Taseer: PPP’s struggle against the Ziaist Blasphemy Law

The PPP has a long history of standing up to Islamofascism and Islamopatriotism in Pakistan, which have been systematically and institutionally cultivated in the curricula, mosques, schools, madrassahs, media and other aspects of Pakistani society by the military establishment.

The martyrdom of Salman Taseer is not the first in the PPP’s effort to protect the peaceful message of Islam and the Prophet (pbuh). Previously a daring and honest judge Arif Iqbal Bhatti was killed by Islamo-fascists of the Sipah-e-Sahaba in 1997 when he acquitted two innocent Christians accused of blasphemy to the Quran.

It may be noted that only a few days before shaheed Taseer’s murder, several extremist mullahs (proxies of the establishment) had threatened that: “if Justice Arif Iqbal Bhatti of the Lahore High Court could be assassinated for acquitting two Christian brothers accused of blasphemy, government functionaries supporting Aasia Bibi should not expect to be spared.”

Of course those threatening Taseer and the PPP were “adequately resourced” to implement their threat, which they did implement on 4 January 2011 by murdering Governor Taseer.

Abbas Ather has written an excellent op-ed in daily Express today connecting shaheed Bhatti’s murder to shaheed Taseer’s murder.

Let’s start with an overview of shaheed Bhatti’s murder:

Context of Justice Arif Iqbal Bhatti’s murder


• Three Christians namely Salamat Masih, 11, Manzoor Masih, 38, and Rehmat Masih, 44, are accused of writing blasphemous remarks on a wall belonging to a mosque. Although the mother of Salamat Masih said that her son did not know how to read. They are charged with blasphemy under Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy law (the Black Law) (Section 295C).

In the trial court, all three were convicted and sentenced to death by the trial court. An appeal was allowed when it was determined that they were illiterate.


• Manzoor Masih is gunned and killed outside the District and Sessions Court after exiting a hearing in April. Salamat and Rehmat Masih got injured but survived. Bishop John Joseph speaks out against the attack.

• In August, the Masih case grants leave for appeal on the condition that the investigation is continued.


• Salamat Masih 14, and Rehmat Masih 46, got the death penalty in February.

• On February 23rd, Lahore High Court acquits Rehmat Masih and Salamat Masih based on the objectionable material since Christians were not familiar Arabic, they would not know how to write the name of Allah (swt) in Arabic. The bench included Justice Arif Iqbal Hussain Bhatti and Justice Chaudhry Khurshid Ahmad.

• The fanatics of Jamaat-e-Islami, Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), Sipah-e-Sahaba, JUI-F, JUP, Jamiat-e-Ahle-Hadith etc went into high gear, calling for the hanging of the two survivors, who later had to be smuggled out of the country. A country-wide strike takes place by milli Yakjehti Council, which umbrellas many different religious, groups in May. Major cities such as Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Chitral, Quetta, and Rawalpindi observed the strike.


• Justice Arif Iqbal Bhatti is assassinated in his chambers at Lahore High Court.


• The killer of Justice Arif Iqbal Bhatti was captured and said he killed the judge because he was on the bench that acquitted two Christian men, Salamat and Rehmat Masih in a blasphemy case.

(Source 1: Dawn); (Source 2: Domini)

Aaj bazar mein – Faiz Ahmed Faiz



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