KARACHI: Despite the targeted attacks on politicians and activists for speaking up against the misuse of the blasphemy law, MPA Saleem Khokhar has said that he would not keep silent.
“Acquit Aasia bibi and Rimsha Masih,” he demanded while speaking to the media at the Karachi Press Club on Friday. He condemned the arrest of 11-year-old Rimsha, a Christian girl who reportedly has Down’s syndrome, and was charged with desecrating a Noorani Qaida in Islamabad.
“We all know that the law is being used to settle personal scores and to blackmail minorities,” alleged Khokhar. “But before the trial even starts, the accused is killed or is treated brutally. This is a violation of the human rights.”
Referring to curriculums in schools, Khokhar said that it should be developed in such a way that they promotes peace and harmony instead of instigating hatred for other religions. “There is a need for laws which ensure that a thorough investigation is conducted before a person accused of blasphemy is put behind bars.”
The parliamentarian also mentioned an incident from Faisalabad where a Hindu boy’s mutilated body was found a few days ago “Even our children are not safe and are being targeted for belonging to different religions.”
Ghazala Shafiq, who was representing Christians, said that they should be regarded as Pakistani citizens. “There should be no difference between us and the majority.” Khokhar added to this by saying that Aasia Bibi and Rimsha should also be considered Pakistanis first and Christians later.
Shafiq said that while Hindus have the choice to migrate to India, the Christians have no place to go. “Where should we think of migrating to? This is our homeland and we will not settle anywhere else.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 25th, 2012.