He stressed it is no secret that those charged with the crime of blasphemy are kept languishing in prison while the trial takes place, with no respite or parole even granted in most cases.
With all focus and attention on the appeal against the death sentence awarded to the Pakistani Christian couple Shagufta Kausar and her husband Shafqat Emmanuel in charges of blasphemy which was supposed to come up for hearing at the Lahore High Court yesterday, could not be heard due to the paucity of time. As per their intrepid Advocate Saiful Malook the appeal has now been rescheduled for the 27th of June, and it’s time the international community led by the United Nations strongly monitors the proceedings to ensure that justice is dispensed without any further delay.
“The charge of blasphemy which has been leveled against the couple has no grounds at all as the accused are often framed based on malice, vindictiveness, and every other vice that can be conjured to trump up false charges,” Dr.Abraham Mathai, President of Indian Christian Voice & former Vice Chairman, Minorities Commission said on Thursday.
“In view of this, therefore, pressure should be piled on Pakistan by the international community of nations to repeal this outdated piece of law which has no place and relevance in the modern world. The charge of blasphemy is always misused to target the Christian community who are a minority in a predominantly Muslim majority country,” he further added.
He stressed that it is no secret that those charged with the crime of blasphemy are kept languishing in prison while the trial takes place, with no respite or parole even granted in most cases. By the time the trial court reaches its verdict, years, if not decades, pass by. The process of appeal in the High Court against the trial court verdict takes almost another decade and is as gruesome as the trial in itself.
“And when this is all done, the person who is accused of a crime has unfortunately almost a third of his/ her life waiting for justice, which is rather ironic given that by this time, the person has lost precious years trying to prove his/ her innocence,” Dr. Mathai said.
According to him, this is terribly devastating as it is psychologically destructive to the victim and his family.
It should be categorically stated to Pakistan that failure to repeal this draconian and barbaric piece of legislation deliberately intended to victimize innocent minorities, will result in them being ostracised from the international community through expulsion from the United Nations, the Commonwealth group of nations, regional bodies like SAARC along with trade embargo and sanctions placed on them.
To effect this move a petition should be submitted to the UN by civil society and human rights groups worldwide to deter such savage practices from continuing in the civilized world where the rule of law should be paramount.
Blasphemy law is in actuality typical of the primitive times gone past when savagery was the order of the day. Pakistan seems to be stuck in times when mankind was still uncultured and uncivilized where such debasement was condoned even though frowned upon. The continuity of such a barbaric law in Pakistan in the modern-day 21st century is clearly indicative that norms of civility regulating human behavior are non-existent to them in this millennium.
The international community led by the United Nations should take urgent and remedial steps to ensure that Pakistan styles up before they can be integrated back into the civilized world, Dr. Mathai said.