A Pakistani law that felled a minister and a governorMarch 3rd, 2011 - 6:46 pm ICT by IANS
Islamabad, March 3 (IANS) Pakistan’s blasphemy law, which carries a death sentence for the person who insults the Prophet, has caused the killing of a minister who was a Christian and an outspoken governor, bringing into focus a law that was first codified 150-years back.
Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti was assassinated Wednesday in Islamabad while Punjab governor Salman Taseer was killed by his own bodyguard Jan 4.
Both had sought reform in the blasphemy law and both had sought presidential pardon for Aasia Bibi, a 45-year-old Christian farmhand sentenced to death on charges of denigrating the Prophet.
Taseer’s killing had divided the country with many hailing his bodyguard Mumtaz Qadri as a hero.
Aasia Bibi had begun facing problems in June 2009 in her village, Ittan Wali, in which hers was the only Christian household. A group of Muslim women and Aasia were picking berries when a row took place.
The women claimed she had insulted the Prophet. She was then pursued by a mob that attempted to kill her. Aasia Bibi, a mother of five, was later sentenced to death.
The offences relating to religion were first codified by British rulers in undivided India in 1860, and were then expanded in 1927.
Pakistan became independent in August 1947 and it inherited the laws. During the tenure of military strongman General Zia-ul-Haq in the 1980s, a number of clauses were added.
Rights group say that the laws have been used to persecute minority faiths. Hundreds of Christians are said to be among the accused.
Former information minister and parliamentarian Sherry Rehman introduced a private bill to amend the blasphemy law. But it was later withdrawn.
Sherry Rehman’s friends are now reported to be concerned about her safety as she was the third high-profile person to seek reforms to the blasphemy law. They are worried as the other two people - Bhatti and Taseer - are both dead.
Minorites form just five percent of Pakistan’s 170 million people. Christians are the second largest minority after Hindus.
- Pakistan minister gunned down in Islamabad (Third Lead) - Mar 02, 2011
- Pakistani minister, a Christian, assassinated (Fourth Lead) - Mar 02, 2011
- Pak Taliban threatens to target more blasphemy law reform supporters - Mar 03, 2011
- International manhunt on for Pakistani minister's killers - Dec 26, 2011
- Sherry Rehman next on terror hit list? - Mar 03, 2011
- Sherry Rehman appointed Pakistan's envoy to US - Nov 23, 2011
- Bhatti killers enemies of Pakistan: PM Gilani - Mar 04, 2011
- Indian christians condemn killing of Pakistan minister - Mar 02, 2011
- Salman Taseer's assassin gets death sentence - Oct 01, 2011
- Peace Mumbai condemns Salman Taseer killing - Jan 08, 2011
- Fears over blasphemy-accused Pak-Christian woman's safety after Taseer's assassination - Jan 07, 2011
- Pak minister's assassins leave Taliban-linked leaflets at murder spot - Mar 02, 2011
- Zardari remembers slain minorities minister - Mar 06, 2012
- Pak's blasphemy law is not God-given, but man-made: Salmaan Taseer - Nov 26, 2010
- Sherry Rehman may be next on Pak terror hitlist - Mar 03, 2011
Tags: aasia, bhatti, blasphemy law, british rulers, christian household, death sentence, federal minister, general zia ul haq, information minister, military strongman, minority faiths, muslim women, parliamentarian, presidential pardon, private bill, profile person, salman taseer, sherry rehman, wali, zia ul haq