The law came under the spotlight this month after a court sentenced a Christian mother of four, Aasia Bibi, to death in a case stemming from a village dispute.
Widespread media attention on the case has led to renewed appeals by human rights groups for the repeal of the law, but Federal Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti said that would not happen.
“(Repeal) is not being considered though we are considering changing it so that misuse of the law can be stopped,” Bhatti told a news agency.
Blasphemy convictions are common although the death sentence has never been carried out. Most convictions are thrown out on appeal, but angry mobs have killed many people accused of blasphemy.
Bhatti said consultations with Islamic clerics and representatives of religious minorities on amending the law would soon be held.
He said repealing it is not being considered because that could provoke religious parties and militants who want to topple the government.
“We have to analyse what the reaction of those having intolerant attitudes will be,” Bhatti said. “At this point our aim is to stop its misuse.”
Bhatti said an initial inquiry into the case of the Christian mother suggested she had not committed blasphemy but was falsely accused after a quarrel.
Bibi, the first woman sentenced to death for blasphemy, has appealed to President Asif Ali Zardari to pardon her.
“It will take few more days. We are looking into different things, not just pardon. She could get relief from the courts,” Bhatti said. Authorities are providing Bibi with security in jail and her family has also moved for safety reasons, he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 24th, 2010.