Monday, May 3, 2010
Pakistan’s Minorities Hindus,Sikhs,Christians and Ahmadi Worry As 18th Amendment to the Constitution ignores Blasphemy Law
By Muhammad S.Solanki
Islamabad : The 18th Amendment to the Pakistani constitution, landmark legislation which aims to strengthen democracy and prevent the military from taking power in Pakistan, has avoided the issue of the controversial blasphemy law that has come to haunt Pakistan’s minorities such as Christians, Ahmadi Muslims and Hindus over the years, according to a Pakistani daily.
“The legacy of [former dictator] Zia-Ul-Haq continues to haunt the minorities in Pakistan as the 18th Amendment failed to do away with the controversial Blasphemy Law,” a report in The News daily noted.
According to the report, Ramesh Kumar, Patron of the Pakistan Hindu Council, said that he had met with top government officials, including Senator Raza Rabbani, the Chairman of Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms, seeking amendments to the blasphemy law but failed to get any response.
“The law has greatly been misused against all the minority communities living in the country. There is a dire need to amend the law. I also made some suggestions regarding the selection procedure of the parliamentarians representing the minorities. However, this request, like its former, was also ignored,” Kumar said.
Representing the Christian community, Michael Javed, Secretary General of All Pakistan Minorities Alliance, said that the government officials had made promises on several occasions, but that “it seems that the state has forgotten the outrageous Gojra incident in which seven people [Christians] were burnt alive and more than 40 houses were torched.”
Noting that Pakistan’s blasphemy law is misused frequently against non-Muslims, he added: “Due to the Blasphemy Law, hundreds of innocent people have been killed and several others are languishing in jails on the pretext of false cases.”
“The Blasphemy Law has become a dead noose for us,” said Sardar Ramesh, of the Sikh community, a community which has no representation either in the government or in the opposition, the report added.
Ahmadi Muslims, who are dismissed as simply Ahmadis or Qadianis in Pakistan, have suffered most due to the blasphemy law of Pakistan.
A report on the “State of Human Rights in 2009” by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan shows the bleak picture of the minorities, noting that last year, a total of 41 complaints regarding Blasphemy Law were registered by the police, of which some 37 Ahmadi Muslims were booked under the law.
Source: The News, Pakistan, April 22, 2010