Printer texts blasphemy to get customer to pay

Published: January 9, 2012
A 45-year-old man sent out at least two dozen such text messages to unknown numbers. His motive: an unpaid bill.

A 45-year-old man sent out at least two dozen such text messages to unknown numbers. His motive: an unpaid bill.

KARACHI: Only a madman would actively court arrest for blasphemy in Pakistan but that appears to be the reason why a 45-year-old man sent out at least two dozen such text messages to unknown numbers. His motive: an unpaid bill.

Only one recipient reacted to the message. A former businessman, Bashir Leghari, went to his Surjani Town police station and registered a case. The only problem was that he didn’t know who had sent the message in the first place.

The Surjani police enlisted the help of the Citizens-Police Liaison Committee to track down the sender. They worked from December 16 when the FIR was filed and weeks later landed at the doorstep of a man named Zafar who lives in Baloch Colony, Mehmoodabad and works in the printing business. The CPLC’s Khalid Noor said that they tracked his location but it took time as his phone had been switched off for a while. He was arrested on Sunday evening.

Investigating officer SI Jamal Khan told The Express Tribune that the card was registered in Zafar’s name and he admitted he sent the messages. But what stumped the police was his bizarre motive.

Zafar told the police that a woman who identified herself as Yamna came to him and asked him to print a book which contained the blasphemous material. But when he asked her to pay the bill of Rs45,000, she refused and threatened to have him killed.

A desperate Zafar thought that if he sent out the blasphemous messages, he would be arrested and thus the police would also find her and she would be punished too. He felt that either he would get his money back or he would be killed, which would end his financial worries anyway.

As Zafar’s arrest was fresh Sunday evening there were several unanswered questions such as if he knew of the blasphemous content before he printed it, where exactly his business is located and how many copies of the material he prepared.

As the arrest was in Mehmoodabad, it was taking the police some time to get a hold of the man in Surjani who filed the case in the first place in mid-December.

For now Zafar has been charged under sections 295-C, 298-A and 298 of the Pakistan Penal Code, which carry the death penalty or life imprisonment. He is likely to be presented in court on Monday.

In 2006, a similar case was recorded in Azizabad over text messages.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 9th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (12)

  • T Khan
    Jan 9, 2012 - 4:53AM

    so is this a blasphemy case or a stupidity case???


  • asdf
    Jan 9, 2012 - 12:52PM

    Can’t believe that in this day and age, there are countries and legal systems on earth carrying laws for blasphemy? If this is not the clash of civilzations then what is?


  • M M Malik
    Jan 9, 2012 - 12:53PM

    Absurdity at its peak.


  • Mard-e-Haq
    Jan 9, 2012 - 12:54PM

    Calling each other Kafir and Blasphemer is becoming a national pastime in Pakistan and will be applicable for all tricky situations…just like saying your salams.

    Soon, even Basant will lose its allure.


  • Tariq
    Jan 9, 2012 - 1:10PM

    This is an insanity case.


  • sashayub
    Jan 9, 2012 - 2:55PM

    Basant has already been lost because of too much commercialisation and provincial governments making a fast buck at the risk of people’s lives and livelihoods….they cannot stop the production of metallic thread….so they just go for the killing of thousands of households by preventing them from earning a decent living


  • Desi German
    Jan 9, 2012 - 4:23PM

    I dont think it is really clash of civilizations, it is just the normal way things are, these days Islam is having its dark period.It was ver similar with Christianity. When Islam was living having a ‘golden period’ und was at the hight of civilization (ca. 800 to 1200 AD) Christianty was going though its darkest period. If you happen to come across history of catholicism, check out what their Mullah ( priests) were upto. In contrast of our religious ‘leaders’.Recommend

  • Hedgefunder
    Jan 9, 2012 - 5:23PM

    Only in Pakistan !! The height of stupidity, surely the law officers have far more important cases to deal with, than this !


  • Jan 9, 2012 - 5:50PM



  • JustAnotherPakistani
    Jan 9, 2012 - 7:44PM

    What wonderful news. With what alacrity the police has acted. We can all sleep securely now that we are safe from blasphemers.


  • KM
    Jan 9, 2012 - 10:07PM

    Doesn’t the police force have anything better to do?…Like catch murderers or terrorists?….Guess not!Recommend

  • Jan 10, 2012 - 9:08PM

    Bizarre. Even in the history strife-torn Reformation Europe I never read of a publisher trying to “out” his client for not paying a bill – but I never heard of a writer threatening to kill his publisher, either.


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