Pakistan Prime Minister, Yousaf Raza Gillani, last week categorically announced that the government will not amend the blasphemy law and instructed Peoples Party parliamentarian Sherry Rehman to with draw the bill for proposed amendment in the Blasphemy law. Ultimately the bill was withdrawn.
Ms. Sherry Rehman, a member of parliament who belongs to belongs to ruling party [the Pakistan People’s Party or PPM] has been receiving death threats from radical groups for her bill to amend the country’s controversial blasphemy law.
According to ANS sources, an application was filed on February 7, 2011 by a local shop keeper Fahim Akhtar Gul, at the session court in Multan, claiming that Rehman had committed blasphemy by speaking against the blasphemy law during a television talk show in November, 2010.
Mehr Nasir Hussain, the additional and sessions judge of Multan district, directed Multan Syed Saud Aziz, City Police Officer (CPO), to investigate and compile a report to confirm the legal status of an application seeking the registration of a blasphemy case against Ms. Rehman.
The CPO then directed the local police and the legal wing to examine the application. But now, Yousaf Khokhar, the Senior Superintendent of Police, Legal Operations, has confirmed that “the matter doesn’t fall in the jurisdiction of blasphemy,” adding, “we cannot register a case based on this application…we didn’t find anything against the law.”
CPO Aziz presented his report at the session court where the judge formally rejected the application on February 16, 2011.
Despite the death threats, we can now confirm that there are no other charges against Sherry Rehman, and reluctantly she has abided by the party policy in which she was asked to withdraw her proposed amendment bill, which disappointed many in the civil society and the minority communities.
Speaking out against Pakistan’s blasphemy law, can be a dangerous business. This was born out on January, 4, 2011 when the Governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, was assassinated by his own bodyguard, Mumtaz Qardi, for calling it a “black law”. Qadri was indicted on Monday by the local court at the Adyala Jail in Rawalpindi.
Rodrick Samson is a freelance journalist based in Pakistan.