10/29/2009, 00.00
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What can be done to abolish Pakistan’s blasphemy laws

Christian activists and members of civil society groups call on Islamabad to repeal the relevant sections of the Pakistan Penal Code. The fundamental principles of an open and multi-confessional society must protect every individual. At the bottom, a list of Pakistani embassies and diplomatic representations is provided.
Islamabad (AsiaNews) – Pakistani Christians and members of civil society groups call on the Pakistani government and the international community to adopt appropriate steps to guarantee religious freedom in the country and protect the rights of minorities. Here is an 11-point list of demands to achieve an open and multi-confessional society where every individual is protected irrespective of caste, sex or religious creed.
-         The speech made by Muhammad Ali Jinnah on 11 August 1947 to the first Constituent Assembly of Pakistan should become an integral part of the constitution.
-         The constitution should define Pakistani society as multi-confessional.
-         The state should guarantee equal opportunities and equal rights to all its citizens, irrespective of faith, caste or religious creed.
-         Political parties should incorporate minorities and include members from religious groups in the various electoral colleges in accordance with their size.
-         The government should repeal Sections 295-B and 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code because they are a source of constant fear and insecurity for religious minorities.
-         Laws based on the Sharia should not apply to non-Muslims.
-         Textbooks should be rewritten so that sections that fuel interfaith hatred are eliminated. Compulsory religious education should become optional in educational institutions.
-         Provision should be made so that students and prison inmates from religious minorities can obtain extra marks now available to Muslim students who memorise the Qur‘an (hafiz-e-Qur‘an) since it gives the latter extra credits useful for university entry or sentence reduction, at the expense of Christians. Alternatively, no concession should be made based on religion.
-         Minorities should be given equal space in media regarding religious programming and issues important to them.
-         Measures should be taken to rehabilitate bonded labourers working in the agricultural sector, small industry and brick kilns.
-         A new population census should be carried out with careful focus on finding the actual size of religious minorities in order to give them proportional representation in the country’s affairs.
We urge our readers to send these suggestions and requests via regular mail or e-mail to the Pakistan Embassy of their country.
You can find Pakistan diplomatic representations around the world by clicking on the hyperlink below. Pakistan Embassies to the Holy See and the United Unions are also indicated.
Pakistan Embassy to the Holy See
H.E. Ms Ayesha Riyaz
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
CH – 3005 Berne
Bernastrasse, 47
or send an e-mail to the following address:
Permanent Mission of Pakistan to the United Nations:
8 East, 65th StreetNew York, NY 10065United States of America
Pakistan Mission to UN Geneva:
56, Rue de MoillebeauPO Box 434, 1211Geneva 19, Switzerland
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