LAHORE: Article 295 of the Constitution quite clearly says: “Whoever destroys, damages or defiles any place of worship, or any object held sacred by any class of persons with the intention of thereby insulting the religion of any class of persons or with the knowledge that any class of persons is likely to consider such destruction damage or defilement as an insult to their religion shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both”.
On August 11, 1947, the Founder of Pakistan addressed its Constituent Assembly and said in his speech the following: “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State”.
The Constitution of Pakistan provides for fundamental rights. It is clearly written in article 25(1) of the Constitution: “All citizens are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of law”.
We belong to the Christian community of Pakistan — and we make up around 1.5 per cent of the population of our beloved homeland. When she was prime minister, Benazir Bhutto tried to change the blasphemy law because it was being used to terrorise religious minorities, but she couldn’t succeed. She was able to make the existing law more moderate but those changes were reversed by the government of Nawaz Sharif who came after her.
We have no confidence in the present PML-N government in Punjab. The government has not done anything even as a Church-owned site has been bulldozed in Garhi Shahu in Lahore and homes for the poor, elderly and homeless, and a school for poor girls razed to the ground.
We respect the Constitution of Pakistan and the laws of the land and we believe that the parliament is a supreme institution. But here, justice from our experience, seems selective and is not there for those who belong to minority communities.
We want fair and equal justice.
President Pakistan Masih League
Published in The Express Tribune, January 31st, 2012.