Thursday, March 03, 2011
Islamabad, Mar 3: Liberal Pakistan parliamentarian Sherry Rehman, who had proposed a bill to reform the nation's draconian blasphemy laws, may be next on the Pakistan extremists' hitlist.
Of the three brave Pakistani politicians who stood up for Aasia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman who was sentenced to death last November for allegedly committing blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad, just one is still alive- Rehman.
Following the assassinations of former Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer on January 4 and Minorities Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti yesterday, worries are growing that Rehman could be next.
"Make no mistake: she is in grave danger, like nobody else," The Guardian quoted one of Rehman's friends, as saying.
Rehman is currently in New Delhi attending a conference.
She spent most of January holed up inside her Karachi home, surrounded by police and advised by senior government ministers to leave Pakistan lest she be assassinated.
"I get two types of advice about leaving. One from concerned friends, the other from those who want me out so I''ll stop making trouble. But I''m going nowhere," Rehman was quoted, as saying in January.
In Pakistan, she flies to Islamabad discreetly- once on a friend''s private jet- but dares not appear in parliament, the report said.
Rehman's movements have become secret, highlighting how a vibrant voice has been silenced by intolerant forces, which some warn could entirely suffocate the country''s fragile democracy.
"We are the knife''s edge. A clerical tsunami is headed towards us," liberal academic Pervez Hoodbhoy warned at a literature festival in Karachi last month.