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Thursday, 30 January 2014

Pakistan problems and British Citizens

Mentally ill Brit sentenced to death for blasphemy
Concern is mounting in various parts of British society about the situation in Pakistan.  The British Methodist church has written to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to voice their concern about the change in blasphemy law ordered by the highest Sharia court in Pakistan - a change that would mean only the death sentence would apply, tightening rules which say that life imprisonment - already a barbaric and evil law in itself - is an option.  Given the role that the Sharia court holds in Pakistani government, the Government must implement the law unless it appeals - the appeal window closed on 4th February.

Further stories reported in the national news media highlight the evil of the blasphemy laws.  Two British citizens have been sentenced under the blasphemy laws in the last year or so.  An Ahmadi named Masud Ahmad who recited a passage of the Koran, a practice forbidden to Ahami's under the blasphemy law, was imprisoned in November 2012.  And now a mentally ill British citizen, Mohammad Asghar, originally arrested in 2010 for blasphemy, has been sentenced to death, in a case his lawyer said was originally a property dispute.  However, Mr Asghar apparently sent letters to various officials claiming to be Muhammed, an act which, in Pakistan, is definitely diagnostic of mental illness or some form of madness. Mr Asghar was treated for paranoid schizophrenia in Edinburgh, before travelling to Pakistan in 2010.  The fact that Mr Asghar's lawyer is so frightened that he refused to allow press to name him for fear of threats in violence is unsurprising, but clear demonstration of the mob-rule that is associated with the blasphemy laws already.

In another case at the other end of British society - and another case that will ring bells with those who have knowledge of the plight of Christians in Pakistan - an influential British citizen of Pakistani heritage is accused of land-mafia tactics and use of force in a property dispute.  Javed Khan, is cited as one of the UK's most prominent Muslims, and is head of a prominent charity backed with millions in government funds, Victim Support, aimed at helping the victims of crime.  He is also supposed to be taking over soon as CEO of Children's Charity Barnado's soon.  According to reports, he traveled to Pakistan and used brute force to settle a long-running property dispute in his favour.  Reports say that, accompanied by about eight men armed with automatic weapons, he turned up in Toyota pick-up trucks and bulldozed parts of the wall of a village cemetery, and personally threatened to shoot a middle-aged woman who tried to stop him, as well as the village chief, and shots were fired in the air.  This kind of intimidation in such disputes by powerful and influential figures is not rare in Pakistan.  Mr Khan is reported to be under threat of contempt of court as the matter was being heard at a civil court.  The police 'resolved' of 'defused' the situation by, after holding Mr Khan in custody for several hours, helping him to rebuild the wall along the 'correct' - according to Mr Khan - line.

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