12/15/2010, 00.00
PAKISTAN

Pakistani President Zardari wants to amend blasphemy law

Jibran Khan
Controversial blasphemy law continues to cause divisions in Pakistan. Lahore High Court has not yet fixed the date for Asia Bibi’s appeal, who is still in prison. Initiatives to change the law used to oppress minorities. An MP reveals the President’s opinion on the issue.

Lahore (AsiaNews) - The debate on the blasphemy law continues in Pakistan, while waiting for the Lahore High Court to set a date for the appeal in the case of Asia Bibi, a Christian sentenced to death for blasphemy. President Zardari has confided to a member of parliament that he agrees with its amendment. Politicians and civil society condemn the misuse of the blasphemy law and are asking the government to change it. Meanwhile, Asia Bibi’s case has been followed by an incident in Hyderabad, where a Ismaili doctor was wrongly accused, beaten and arrested on a false charge of blasphemy, causing concern and fear.

A press conference was organized at the Karachi Press Club seen by the Association of Sindh Physicians to highlight the case of the Ismaili doctor Naushad Ahmed Valiyani.  He was falsely accused of blasphemy by, Muhammad Faizan a pharmaceuticals salesman. Vailyani threw the man’s business card in the trash, Faizan then accused him of blasphemy against the name of the prophet Muhammad and reported him to police.

The President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari wants the blasphemy law changed, a member of the Sindh Assembly revealed at a press conference. Mr. Pitambar Sewani, speaking at the meeting on "vulnerable communities because of their faith," organized by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said Zardari spoke on the issue during a meeting held at the residence of the prime minister of Sindh. Sewani said he had raised the issue of the blasphemy laws used to oppress minorities. Zardari said he agreed on the revision of the law, if necessary. "The federal government may examine and take the necessary action" Zardari said, quoted by Sewani. Action in this regard should be taken by the Minister of Justice, he added.

Several human rights organizations have demanded that the law be changed, following the case of Asia Bibi. However, Pakistan Law Minister Babar Awan had categorically said in November that no one should think of repealing this law. "In my presence, as the Law Minister, no one should think of finishing this law," he had said.

Politicians and conservative clerics have been at loggerheads over whether Zardari should pardon Asia, who was sentenced to death after a district judge found her guilty of having stated that insects had feasted upon the prophet Muhammad's ear prior to his death and that he married his first wife for wealth, and that the Quran was written by man and not God. Asia denied the accusations, claiming ignorance of Islamic knowledge.

The Christian woman’s fate still hangs in the balance, the AsiaNews campaign to free her continues. So far, some 7200 people have sent an e-mail of support, 1800 others their signatures by mail.

Join us by writing to: salviamoasiabibi@asianews.it.

 

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No immediate pardon for Asia Bibi. Appeal must go before the High Court
26/11/2010
Asia Bibi: fears over safety, controversy over stay on pardon
02/12/2010
Asia Bibi: Pakistani Christians march against blasphemy law at Christmas
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No news about Asia Bibi’s fate as her release might take longer
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Pakistan's blasphemy law claims another innocent victim
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