Media watch is a daily round-up of key articles featured on news websites, hand-picked by The Express Tribune web staff.
The government will not allow anyone to misuse the blasphemy law in the country, Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti told journalists after attending the meeting of National Assembly Standing Committee on Minorities Affairs. He said protection to the life and property of minorities was the constitutional obligation of the government. He said Ministry of Minorities Affairs had written a letter to the Punjab government regarding Aasia Bibi, sentenced to death in a blasphemy case by a District and Sessions Court in Nanakana Sahib. Bhatti said the Ministry had asked the Punjab government to provide the accused all possible chances to plead her case on merit and ensure her protection in the jail. The minister said in most of the cases, blasphemy law was being misused to settle personal scores, political vendetta and religious enmities. He said the government was taking steps to stop misuse of the law. He said Aasia Bibi would be given opportunity to plead her case (dailytimes.com.pk)
It seems more likely that she angered her tormentors in a theological discussion about the relative merits of Christianity and Islam. Such debates take place all the time among adherents of different faiths. Whichever it may have been, the law has created intolerable injustice for often powerless people and quite unacceptable restrictions on freedom of speech to which the state of Pakistan is committed… How can Asia Bibi and others be saved from the gallows? The blasphemy law is a bad law enacted under pressure from extremists who threaten violence if the government does anything to lessen its impact or to ameliorate the lot of those who have fallen victim to it. A bad law will always come back to haunt us and that is why our ultimate aim must be its repeal. (guardian.co.uk)
The Sheikhupura district and sessions court judgment highlights to the world what anyone who has ever traversed the muddy waters of Pakistan’s law-enforcement and judicial system knows all too well: the investigative capacity of the police is virtually non-existent and the police habitually caves in to Islamist-inspired mobs in the name of ‘preserving public order’, particularly when it comes to vendettas against religious minorities. Too often, the lower-level judiciary lacks the training to adjudicate within the framework of the law and frequently brings its own political and social prejudices to bear in its approach to the law. (dawn.com)
“Nothing is going to happen,” insists Salmaan Taseer, Governor of Punjab. Asia Bibi, the Christian woman accused of blasphemy, will not suffer a death sentence; he says it will be struck down by the higher courts. But Taseer adds: “Nevertheless, it is a disgraceful episode. It’s an embarrassment for Pakistan.”
The case is another grim reminder of how Pakistan’s cruel blasphemy laws not only leave minority groups vulnerable, but even encourage their persecution. “These laws are used to victimise Christians and other groups. They are a foul leftover from the military regime of General Zia-ul-Haq,” says Taseer. (independent.co.uk)