02/19/2011, 00.00
PAKISTAN

Punjab: Sherry Rehman will not be prosecuted for blasphemy

by Jibran Khan
The court decided to drop the proceedings against the member of parliament from the PPP. The chase brought by a businessman from Multan, who judged opinions expressed by the woman on a talk show blasphemous. The police investigations have found that there were no violations of the law.

Lahore (AsiaNews) - The district judge in Multan, a city in Punjab, has rejected the request for charges of blasphemy against Sherry Rehman, a lawmaker of the ruling Pakistan People's Party (PPP). The court had instructed the police to draw up a report based on the allegations and find evidence to back the charge lodged by a private citizen against the woman. However, investigators failed to find any evidence to support the charge and called for it to be shelved. Sources close to Rehman confirm that security remains precarious for women, over whom hangs a death threat by Islamic extremists.

In recent months, Rehman had proposed amendments to the "black law", sparking the ire of fundamentalist wing of the country. The woman later withdrew the amendments, indicating that she intended to follow her party line, which is rather hesitant in wanting to change the norm. The latest blow came in the past week: Yousaf Raza Gilani, Prime Minister of Pakistan, "categorically excluded" amendments to the law on blasphemy. Salman Taseer, Governor of Punjab and a member of the PPP was killed last January for publically coming out against the blasphemy law.

On 7 February, Fahim Akhtar Gul, a shopkeeper in Multan, reported Sherry Rehman the court of Multan, on charges of blasphemy. The Parliamentarian apparently used derogatory terms against the "black law" during a television talk show in November 2010 and should be punished according to this controversial rule.

Mehr Nasir Hussain, a judge at the district court of Multan, instructed the police to open an investigation and prepare a report, with the possible sources of evidence. Once the facts were verified, the police officer Yousaf Khokhar explained that "the matter does not fall into cases of blasphemy" because "a close analysis of the video, shows there are no violations of the law." On the advise of the investigators, the court decided to dismiss the case.
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