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Friday, 26 November 2010

Federal Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti Proposes Abolishment of Blasphemy Laws

President Zardari Announces a Committee To Review The Blasphemy Laws

Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Minorities Mr Shahbaz Bhatti met with President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday and presented his report on the Asia Bibi Case and the Blasphemy Laws.

The Federal Minister in his investigation report proved that Asia Bibi is innocent and that the blasphemy case registered against her is baseless, false, concocted and based on personal and religious enmity.
Federal Minister explained in his report the mala fide intention of the complainant and witnesses in this case to victimize the Christian woman.

The federal Minister recommended that Asia Bibi be released or Pardoned from prison if her pending appeal in the Lahore High Court is not addressed within an appropriate time frame. The President in return has agreed to pardon Asia Bibi if her appeal languishes in the Court.
In his report to President Zardari, Mr Shahbaz Bhatti has proposed complete abolishment of the controversial and widely misused Blasphemy Laws, promulgated in Pakistan by the military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq in 1986 and has since then been misused by Islamic extremists to victimize and ostracize religious minorities, and to settle personal scores. The Law fosters injustice and sectarian violence.
President Zardari has called for the formation of high level committee; This Committee will be headed by the Federal Minister for Minorities Mr Shahbaz Bhatti, who will propose names of scholars and experts to review/revisit the blasphemy laws and propose recommendations to effectively prevent its misuse.

The committee will put forward its recommendations in consultation with political parties, Islamic scholars, religious parties, human rights organization, minority representatives and all other stakeholders, for the consideration of the government.

President Zardari has said that the government would not allow anyone to misuse the blasphemy laws and would take all appropriate measures whether administrative, procedural or legislative to stop the growing incidents of misuse of the blasphemy laws.

Shahbaz Bhatti Federal Minister for Minorities has long campaigned against the blasphemy laws, Hard-line Islamic groups have threatened to behead him in the past and even now as he leads the campaign against Blasphemy laws, they continue to warn him of dire consequences.

Protest and demonstrations by Islamic groups are being carried out across the country denouncing any attempt to bring about any changes in the blasphemy laws.
Furthermore the Taliban a banned Islamic Organization have warned that any changes in the blasphemy laws would lead to anarchy in the country.
Today after proposing the abolishment of these laws to the President of Pakistan, Shahbaz Bhatti states, "I am not afraid of these threats; I am ready to sacrifice everything for the principles that I believe in."

Research and Advocacy Cell
All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA)

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