Are we to be blamed for Rimsha?

Published: September 8, 2012
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Are the mullahs solely responsible for misusing these laws or is it also a failure of the state? Is it the society’s citizens who continue to remain silent time and again? PHOTO: AFP/FILE

Qari Khalid Chishti is caught in the same trap that he had initially set for a minor Christian girl — which was intended as a tool against the Christian community in his area. The unexpected backfiring of this case seems to garner hope that Rimsha Masih will receive justice.

The widespread reaction of religious scholars against Chishti’s actions is new hope for all citizens and for minorities, in particular, who feel insecure at the hands of such elements that misuse the blasphemy law.

Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are based on British colonial laws dating from 1860 and were amended in the 1980s to add life imprisonment and the death penalty by then dictator General Ziaul Haq. According to a report from the Jinnah Institute, there were nine blasphemy cases in Pakistan between 1929 and 1982, while blasphemy cases over the last 15 years have climbed into the thousands.

The question is;

Are the mullahs solely responsible for misusing these laws or is it also a failure of the state?

Who is responsible for creating a rift in the name of religion, region and creed?

Is it the society’s citizens who continue to remain silent time and again?

It should be clear that policymaking is someone else’s job and that the role of the mullah should be limited. But no such comprehensive policy has been introduced. Now, our state is caught in its own trap for not paying closer attention to this issue and for not properly laying down the rules. The menaces of ethnic clashes and sectarianism flourished under the state’s own nose.

Our prime minister has asked the highest court of our country to not serve the contempt notice to him as it would be an issue of the country’s prestige. But perhaps the prime minister has lost sight of the real issues tarnishing the country’s prestige like our shameful budgetary allocation for education and the menace of corruption from top to bottom in the executive, military, bureaucracy and judiciary.

We have no jobs for our youth and our political parties are too busy pursuing personal interests.

There is need to say a big “no” to our current state of affairs. The decades-old system of compromise will no longer serve our purpose; there is a dire necessity to bring drastic changes in our policies.

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Azam Khan

Azam Khan

An Islamabad based reporter for The Express Tribune.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.