Couple gets death over 'blasphemous' text message

By AFP
Published: April 5, 2014

'Blasphemy chant was a land-grab ruse.' PHOTO: FILE

LAHORE: A court in eastern Pakistan has sentenced a Christian couple to death for sending a blasphemous text message insulting to Prophet Mohammed (pbuh), their lawyer said Saturday.

Judge Mian Amir Habib handed the death sentence to Shafqat Emmanuel and Shagufta Kausar in a jail in the town of Toba Tek Singh on Friday, defence lawyer Nadeem Hassan told AFP.

Prosecution department officials confirmed the sentence.

The impoverished couple, who are in their forties, have three children and live in the town of Gojra, which has a history of violence against Christians, Hassan said.

Both denied the charges, Hassan said, adding that they would appeal the sentence.

Maulvi Mohammad Hussain, the prayer leader at a local mosque in Gojra, lodged a complaint against couple on July 21 last year for sending him a text message which he said was insulting to Prophet Mohammed (pbuh).

Hussain accused the husband of sending the message from his wife’s cellphone.

However, defence lawyer Hassan said that the text originated from a cellphone which the couple had lost some time before the incident, so they could not have sent the message.

The defence lawyer said that the couple had suspected rivals of implicating them into blasphemy case to settle personal scores and that they had ties with the complainant.

In 2009, a mob had attacked a Christian neighbourhood in Gojra and burned 77 houses and killed at least seven people after rumours that a Quran had been desecrated.

On March 27, another Christian man Sawan Masih was sentenced to death in Lahore for insulting Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) during the course of a conversation with a Muslim friend in the Joseph Colony neighbourhood in March last year.

Reader Comments (81)

  • Spellbound!
    Apr 5, 2014 - 2:36PM

    Death sentence over a SMS. Wow
    That too when it was stolen before the incident. Progressive face of land of pure!

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  • Hamza
    Apr 5, 2014 - 2:52PM

    Shame on us for marginalising our minority communities under the the guise of religion.

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  • Reza Khan
    Apr 5, 2014 - 2:57PM

    This is ridiculous! Repeal this black law.

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  • Islooboy
    Apr 5, 2014 - 3:08PM

    Actually, some law should be passed by all the non-Muslims that they will not go to certain places while the Muslims also are not expected to go to the Non-Muslim places. This ordiel will end only and only if all the non-Muslim people of the world start effective boycotting of the Muslims.

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  • TAHIR
    Apr 5, 2014 - 3:14PM

    This is a very tragic moment in Pakistan that the blasphemy law has been mostly used to settle their personal goals.How many people were sentenced who burned the houses of christian community and killed 07 people?.We hope a better sense will prevail and to blemish the face of Islam will take its conclusive course. All the Mulsim Clergymen will also condemn the destruction of Temples and Churches and go to the court for the justice and avoid an attitude of seeing things prejudicial towards Non-Muslims.

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  • Dextro
    Apr 5, 2014 - 3:26PM

    Mullahs at it again.

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  • Glenn
    Apr 5, 2014 - 3:33PM

    Shafqat Emmanuel and Shagufta Kausar have never killed anyone, but the mob or the state system is going to kill them anyway.

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  • Sami
    Apr 5, 2014 - 3:34PM

    Religion only consider it flowers as human beings and rest are worst than animals.

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  • Farhan
    Apr 5, 2014 - 3:35PM

    I’m sorry to all the minorities in Pakistan. Our Peace be upon him (PBUH) didn’t teach us to do so, but there are some religious sects who are trying to exploit and avenge people for their own benefits. our dear PBUH taught us tolerance, and piece which was the basic principle of a good society and our religion of Islam. these uneducated and ignorant people can’t do nothing than to make false issues to disturb the piece of society.Recommend

  • Captain Jack
    Apr 5, 2014 - 3:36PM

    How can one defend against this kind of barbarism in court?

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  • Jibran
    Apr 5, 2014 - 3:43PM

    All prayer leaders are consistently bigots and criminals. So much for outsourcing the guard of the religion to blood thirsty vultures.

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  • pk
    Apr 5, 2014 - 3:49PM

    great judgement…

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  • NV
    Apr 5, 2014 - 3:57PM

    Shouldn’t the court system get busy going after extremist elements in Pakistani society that are conducting genocide against other (Muslim) minorities than putting innocent people to death?

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  • liuqe
    Apr 5, 2014 - 4:00PM

    Unfortunately, Pakistan is a failing state and is full of fanatics. Where else could such a ridiculous law survive. Absolutely crazy. Imagine if the whole world used these laws? Everybody would have been sentenced to death already..

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  • Wali
    Apr 5, 2014 - 4:07PM

    Ansolutely shocking and saddening… It is incidents like this that make me feel ashamed. It is time that we come to realise that blasphemy laws are being abused and nothing buy tools exploited by bigots.

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  • Sophist
    Apr 5, 2014 - 4:07PM

    And this is how we spread Islam, which supposed to be a religion of forgiveness, peace and love. Just so sick and tired of these so called Mulahs (with respect not all).

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  • akash
    Apr 5, 2014 - 4:13PM

    We want to see the call records of the number under consideration and also its location and nearby other numbers location and also the call records of the Mullah on whose number text was sent, publish it in newspaper and truth can be found but it wont happen in this land of pure, as no mullah can be sentenced in this land of pure, Mumtaz Qadri should have been hanged at liberty chowk to make him example but justice is only for a selected impure people like the liberal political parties, liberal journalists etc.
    Shame to be a Pakistani.

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  • Shamsher Singh Dhillion
    Apr 5, 2014 - 4:18PM

    How disgusting! Pakistan has become the epicenter of hatred.

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  • Kamran
    Apr 5, 2014 - 4:28PM

    For all those who will start using novel jargon’s to criticize Pakistan,its laws etc etc, Can you people really think just for a moment that was/is it really necessary to utilize your skills of free speech for insulting others religion. Why not indulge in a productive discussion to better utilize the what we call it a Free Speech. remember, Free speech has its threshold too like everything. Have a good day

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  • sattar rind
    Apr 5, 2014 - 4:37PM

    Judge seems need a treatment of mental illness. How a massage could be prove that has been send by one? There are lot of chances that one can misuse ones’ mobile.

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  • Aseem
    Apr 5, 2014 - 4:37PM

    Is there any political party, NGO or any public voice in Pakistan which advocates repealing of this blasphemy law??? Cursed are the minorities who are born in Pakistan.

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  • water bottle
    Apr 5, 2014 - 4:39PM

    Here is the trick Pakistanis must learn.

    You want someone killed? Secretly send a blasphemous message to a hardcore Muslim from his mobile.

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  • Kamran
    Apr 5, 2014 - 4:42PM

    Please Suggest some alternatives
    @Reza Khan:

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  • Kamran
    Apr 5, 2014 - 4:43PM

    @Dextro:

    You need a lesson of English Language

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  • a reader
    Apr 5, 2014 - 4:58PM

    Misuse of any law will only encourage similar situations arising in future by making new laws for own benefit.

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  • rasgullah
    Apr 5, 2014 - 5:04PM

    The non muslim countries should treat muslims similar to how muslim countries treat other religions. Then this nonsense will stop.

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  • vinsin
    Apr 5, 2014 - 5:20PM

    @Kamran:
    You can’t criticize religion. Where atheist will go? What will happen to scientist and their numerous inventions? Freedom of speech has no limit. Limits are self imposed not by some government. For me what you have said is blasphemy and you freedom to say anything should be taken away and use if all the things that are modern and invented because of free mind.Recommend

  • Fi
    Apr 5, 2014 - 5:25PM

    smells fishy so much that the stench is reaching the sky!Recommend

  • Jahanzaib
    Apr 5, 2014 - 5:49PM

    After all its Islamic Republic of Pakistan!

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  • Hailstorm
    Apr 5, 2014 - 5:51PM

    Is God so weak to be protected by law?

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  • Dextro
    Apr 5, 2014 - 6:07PM

    @Kamran

    So I missed typing a verb. Big deal. At least I am not deliberately throwing red herrings all over the place like you are doing….

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  • imranbhatt
    Apr 5, 2014 - 6:18PM

    DNA is not a sufficient evidence to convict a Muslim rapist but you can convict a poor Christian couple on SMS in blasphemy case. How much fairer a law can be?

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  • Kamran
    Apr 5, 2014 - 6:19PM

    No, it is a dumb mind of people, who think like this
    @Hailstorm:

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  • Express
    Apr 5, 2014 - 6:20PM

    It is trivial to get a cellphone connection made in somebody else’s name in Pakistan. Also it is illegal to give your cellphone SIM to someone else so you have no defence if somebody does this to you.

    The only reason more people don’t use this method to eliminate their rivals is because it is far easier to just shoot them. Murderers rarely get punished here.

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  • Lala
    Apr 5, 2014 - 6:21PM

    Maulvi Mohammad Hussain hmmmmmm is he the one who want to kill them

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  • sohail riaz
    Apr 5, 2014 - 6:27PM

    Ones education in worldly affairs does not make him an expert on deen.
    Alot of self proclaimed educated but yet ignorant individuals in this thread are also committing blasphemy.
    Educate youselves in the sciences of deen and then only you maybe qualified enough to give an opinion on the validity of the law.
    The problem here is not the law but the implementation of it…..learn before you comment

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  • Fm
    Apr 5, 2014 - 6:51PM

    It is shameful for the country, for humanity, for all those who see all this
    And stay silent

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  • bharatvarsh
    Apr 5, 2014 - 6:57PM

    For the past 1400 years muslims have practiced and perfected the art of wiping off the minorities, they then quote a verse and claim that islam is a religion of peace.

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  • Bob Knapman
    Apr 5, 2014 - 7:37PM

    Further, the state of islam was to not recognize western technology…. change of mind with convenience?

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  • Bob Knapman
    Apr 5, 2014 - 7:40PM

    yes I refuse to capitalise the name of the state islam…sick state(notice they refer to it as a state?) why not a faction or a sect?

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  • Adam
    Apr 5, 2014 - 7:47PM

    Shame on all those who r criticising this decision can u plz tell us what is wrong with dis judgment every has some rules nd regulations if someone violate the rules he must be punished

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  • Apr 5, 2014 - 7:49PM

    Shame on those who r criticising this judgment

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  • Moiz Omar
    Apr 5, 2014 - 7:55PM

    Pakistan, where murder and arson are OK but blasphemy? Death. Ashamed to be a Pakistani at this moment.

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  • Jamshaid
    Apr 5, 2014 - 8:00PM

    @liuqe:
    yes your right

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  • Betty
    Apr 5, 2014 - 8:20PM

    Ok, I’m from the USA. Your country’s laws are crazy! We have many different religions here, but we don’t kill people because of them. I am a Cristian and will not back down. Jesus loves me and He loves you too. He truly is the Son of the one True God. Jesus calls us to love others the way he loves us. Once you have a relationship with Him, you will never go back. You will feel a love unlike anything here on earth. We have never in the history of time felt an unconditional love like this that God extends only through Jesus. Love to all of you and I pray for your country.

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  • Raees Ahmad
    Apr 5, 2014 - 8:59PM

    What can other than this be expected in a state established in the name of religin?

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  • komal s
    Apr 5, 2014 - 9:21PM

    @Dextro:
    Sorry it is your police , judiciary doing this just blaming it on mullahs is like living in denial

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  • komal s
    Apr 5, 2014 - 9:23PM

    @Farhan:
    @Dextro:
    Sorry it is your police , judiciary doing this just blaming it on mullahs is like living in denial

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  • komal s
    Apr 5, 2014 - 9:27PM

    @Farhan:
    Unfortunately how many of you in the streets protesting this judgment.

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  • musthaq ahmed
    Apr 5, 2014 - 10:04PM

    @sohail riaz:
    Let me guess your excellency’s age ! If you are young Pakistan is lost. If you are old I feel sorry.

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  • Anon
    Apr 5, 2014 - 10:35PM

    ” A court in eastern Pakistan”

    Seriously? copying this from some place?

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  • Pakistani
    Apr 5, 2014 - 10:47PM

    Embarrassed to be a Pakistani.

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  • Abid P. Khan
    Apr 5, 2014 - 11:06PM

    @Betty:
    “…Once you have a relationship with Him, you will never go back. …”

    .
    Are you one of those Brides of Jesus? Just wondering. Greetings from the grave of Joe McCarthy.

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  • truthbetold
    Apr 5, 2014 - 11:32PM

    To all those who are expressing dismay at this blasphemy charge and criticize the judge, you need to look at the facts first. Pakistan is an Islamic state that, through its constitution, sworn to uphold Islamic values and laws. Now, death for blasphemy and apostasy is indeed part of Islamic law and that is why it is also part of Pakistan’s civil code.

    So, why blame the judge? If you don’t like the law, the only way to remove it is to remove the “Islamic” from the name “Islamic Republic of Pakistan” and remove all connections to Islam from the constitution. If you don’t want to go that far, aren’t you being hypocrites who make empty noise on news like this?

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  • Ayaz Arif
    Apr 5, 2014 - 11:38PM

    Time to leave Pakistan.

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  • Dr. Asad Sadick, Germany
    Apr 6, 2014 - 12:51AM

    This age old law has to be struck down. Recommend

  • AP
    Apr 6, 2014 - 1:23AM

    @Farhan:

    for how you are going to sell lies?

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  • Carl
    Apr 6, 2014 - 4:46AM

    Humankind sure has a long way to go and lots to learn… – I hope we will get there some day, without killing ourselves first…!

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  • james malish
    Apr 6, 2014 - 5:11AM

    After such a incidence in my family during gojra riots, thank god that great country of the world USA, give us asylum. If i can, i would get all my coreligionist out of that land of impure. I have started a campaign in USA to stop issuing visas to pakistani muslims. I wish i was born in india!

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  • sharpie31
    Apr 6, 2014 - 6:01AM

    This is why they will remain a third world country

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  • Raj - USA
    Apr 6, 2014 - 6:05AM

    Meanwhile, 19 terrorists who have slaughtered many including army men, have been released and another 16 shall be released soon. None of these terrorists were even convicted, let alone awarded death sentence. Government is bending backwards to free the terrorists.

    Pakistan can never remove blasphemy laws as these are convenient tools to grab property of the victimized. Also, Pakistan can never make marriages of minor girls illegal as this is convenient cover up for coerced and raped conversions of minor hindu and christian girls. Even when they establish the girls have been kidnaped not even one culprit has ever been punished and police even refuse to file an FIR.

    Pakistanis will conveniently blame the mullas when it is the courts and educated judges and leaders of mainstream political parties that are the ones to be blamed.

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  • Xulfjan
    Apr 6, 2014 - 6:53AM

    Religious bigotry would bury us….

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  • vish
    Apr 6, 2014 - 7:16AM

    Land of pure if purifying its sand by washing untill that sand bleed to green…… sad state

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  • vish
    Apr 6, 2014 - 7:17AM

    Adam do you think is is rule.. certainly it is a rule of not even Jungle.. animals lead decent life without law, unless it need to feed its stomachs.

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  • David
    Apr 6, 2014 - 10:06AM

    I wish this story had more context. Was this a tribal area? I like to think most Pakistanis are against this and I would assume (and hope) they want the world to know that as well. This is being read throughout the world and people are quick to form opinions on nations, people and even religions based on simple articles launch as this.

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  • Rasikh
    Apr 6, 2014 - 10:24AM

    Was the text message provided as evidence? If yes it should be made available to public so that an ordinary citizen should exactly know what the message really say.

    Not to forget that this law and the dead sentance is beyond logicc and wisdom of human it is not at all islamic!

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  • Assad
    Apr 6, 2014 - 10:50AM

    A failed state doesn’t come about by the economy, by war or by weak governance……it comes about by the laws that are enshrined. You have built it……so, now live with it

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  • Sensibility
    Apr 6, 2014 - 11:48AM

    All the minorities should leave Pakistan, it’s such a beautiful country with the worst animals living in it, the law should be that if a Muslim uses the law against a non-Muslim, he/she should be hanged till death

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  • chirayu kulkarni
    Apr 6, 2014 - 12:21PM

    @Islooboy: The idea of a boycott is really good. Why don’t we start with US. Could US stop donating weapons to Pakistan?

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  • Munir Anwar
    Apr 6, 2014 - 12:48PM

    The blasphemy law should not be criticized by the bloggers. The law should be obeyed and conviction must be given after due process. Even if convicted as muslims we can show mercy if the guilty truly repents and apologizes.

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  • Indian Catholic
    Apr 6, 2014 - 3:21PM

    @David: Was this a tribal area?

    Since you are generally unaware, No, this was not in a tribal area but in a town in the largest province of Punjab, some 50 kms away from the 3rd largest city in Pakistan. This town has a surprisingly higher concentration of Christians compared to the rest of Pakistan.

    A mob-attack occurred in the same town in 2009 which was suspected to be orchestrated by Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan.

    Let me take this moment to remind you that apart from Christians, Hindus are also not safe in Pakistan with Hindu girls routinely being abducted, converted and married off, which I feel is a fate worse than death. Apart from that, those from other Muslim sects such as Shias and Ahmadis are also routinely murdered in scores.

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  • Apr 6, 2014 - 3:39PM

    Death sentence is only punishment for blasphamer. But this law should not be used for personal rivalary.Court sentences death on this issue after proper jurisdriction. If someone is proved blasphamer then he or she should be sentenced to death.
    If a person alleged that someone is theif. And this allegation may be wrong. But on this base you cannot say that there should be no punishmaent for theif because someone can alleged him taking revenge of personal rivalary.

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  • Sam
    Apr 6, 2014 - 5:05PM

    Congratulations ! Pakistan is getting “purer” by the day.

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  • Reza Khan
    Apr 6, 2014 - 7:24PM

    @Kamran:

    There is no need for laws that marginalize minorities. Any law that prevents hate speech would suffice.

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  • Hafiz Saeed
    Apr 6, 2014 - 8:39PM

    America like internet spying would yield better results.Recommend

  • Mukesh
    Apr 6, 2014 - 11:37PM

    Please Guys Do Some thing we can not afford another another Afghanistan or more worst……………………………….May Allah Forgive Himself For Making Us.Recommend

  • james malish
    Apr 7, 2014 - 1:08AM

    @David
    “I wish this story had more context. Was this a tribal area?..”
    For your information the entire arab world is tribal. Why blame the people of KP as being tribal?

    Recommend

  • Simpleton
    Apr 7, 2014 - 1:28AM

    Let’s not deceive ourselves by blaming the Mullahs & Imams, who could’ve been pushed aside like Bishops,Priests,Poojaris or Monks elsewhere. To be held responsible are the courts,cops,leaders & most important of all the PUBLIC, including the liberals(or so called) who are either really helpless or just deceiving themselves &/or foreign nations(who fund Pakistan).Recommend

  • Umer Bhatti
    Apr 7, 2014 - 10:39PM

    Law says that prosecution must proof its case without any reasonable doubt. and every single reasonable doubt would go to accused. The blasphemous Laws which are made in Pakistan are not bad and the decision given by the court must be according to the facts of the case otherwise it will be set aside by the superior court in the interest of justice. In my opinion the certain facts which are described in this news are not enough for conviction of the accused persons. so the decision must be revised by the appellate court. and if any otherwise circumstances which are connected the accused with the offense are given in the judgment then the media reporter must brought it to the public and clear the whole anomaly.

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  • the dude
    Apr 8, 2014 - 3:10AM

    @Betty:
    You sound just slightly less crazy than those you are criticizing.

    Recommend

  • Ali
    Sep 1, 2014 - 11:36PM

    @Spellbound!:
    Never speak bad about anyone

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