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Pakistan: Blasphemy accused to be tried under terrorism charges too, government bows down before TLP demands

The administration agreed to book anyone suspected of blasphemy and charged under Section 295-C (use of disparaging language, etc., in regard to the Holy Prophet) of the Pakistan Penal Code under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), 1997, as part of a twelve point agreement reached on Saturday with the outfit.

Pakistan is all set to charge the people accused of blasphemy under terrorism laws in addition to its penal code. The move has further cemented the South Asian state’s position as one of the most extremist and illiberal places in the world.

The government of Pakistan has conceded to the demands of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), which signed a deal with the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) government led by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on Saturday. The Islamist group winded up its 25-day-long march protest in Sarai Alamgir, Gujrat district, around 200 kilometers from Lahore following the development. It started its “Pakistan Bachao March” from Karachi on May 22, with Islamabad being the final destination.

Rana Sanaullah, the federal interior minister, claimed that the government had acceded to ‘all legitimate’ TLP demands, including those relating to blasphemy legislation. The administration agreed to book anyone suspected of blasphemy and charged under Section 295-C (use of disparaging language, etc., in regard to the Holy Prophet) of the Pakistan Penal Code under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), 1997, as part of a twelve point agreement reached on Saturday with the outfit.

It was signed by federal ministers Rana Sanaullah and Sadar Ayaz Sadiq from the government’s side and Dr. Mohammad Shafiq Amini and Allama Ghulam Abbas Faizi from TLP.

He informed, “Speedy trials of the blasphemy accused will be ensured. For the first time, a Counter Blasphe­­my Wing (CBW) will be established under the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).” He added that the government would take action to prohibit offensive social media posts. The fundamentalist force has now also acquired political weight owing to the Shehbaz Sharif government’s decision to publish a letter declaring that the former is not a terrorist organization.

The latter has agreed to drop all political cases brought against TLP members and leaders along with removing the restriction on its broadcast and social media coverage. The PML-N leader noted that the TLP leaders whose names are withdrawn from the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997’s Fourth Schedule will have the right to travel about as they like and the administration will provide instructions to provincial governments for the same.

Amnesty International and several international organizations have maintained that Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are frequently applied to people who belong to religious minorities particularly Hindus and other marginalised groups who are often falsely accused. They are now in a situation that is even more perilous and vulnerable as a result of the recent occurrence.

Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan coined “Sar Tan Se Juda”

Islamists in India have mastered the use of street protests and violence to accomplish their demands and instill terror in anyone who would dare to state unfavorable truths. However, recent rallies have escalated, growing more violent and incorporating the ominous chant “Sar Tan Se Juda,” which has come to characterize the anti-blasphemy wrath raging throughout the entire country.

The cry of “Gustakh-e-Rasool ki ek hi saza, sar tan se juda,” which translates to “There is only one punishment for disrespecting Prophet Muhammad, their head separated from their torso,” has become a staple of violent protests that have so far claimed the lives of multiple Hindus, including Kamesh Tiwari in Lucknow, Kanhaiya Lal in Udaipur and Umesh Kolhe in Amravati.

Following what they perceived as ‘blasphemy’ against the Prophet Muhammad, Muslim extremists turned to brutal attacks against innocent Hindus which was encouraged by the dog-whistling of Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair against former Bharatiya Janata Party spokeswoman Nupur Sharma.

Notably, the slogan which has now become a regular feature of Muslim demonstrations in India has its roots in Pakistan. Salman Taseer, the governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province, was assassinated in 2011 by Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, his personal bodyguard, who disapproved of the former’s opposition to the country’s blasphemy law and referred to his gruesome action as a religious duty.

Mumtaz Hussain Qadri was found guilty and condemned to death by the court. He was hanged on 29 February 2016 and protests began immediately by Sunni organizations all over the country against the execution. On March 1, 2016, Mumtaz Qadri’s funeral was held at Liaqat National Bagh in Rawalpindi and over 100,000 people attended, including former federal minister Syed Hamid Saeed Kazmi.

The founder of TLP Maulana Allama Khadim Hussain Rizvi, praised Mumtaz Qadri for killing Salman Taseer and dubbed him a “Ghazi” (Muslim warrior) for the horrific crime. Thousands of people cheered the latter as a hero and raised aggressive slogans against the former governor in a procession led by the Islamic leader. The two main slogans were “Rasool Allah, Rasool Allah” and “Gustakh-e-Rasool ki ek hi saza, sar tan se juda, sar tan se juda.”

Although the maulana passed away in 2020, his slogans continue to be used by Muslim extremists in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh who often advocate for the execution of anyone who they believe has insulted or mocked the Prophet Muhammad in any way. In a sense, he provided them with a model by approving the execution of people who were deemed ‘guilty’ of blaspheming the Prophet of Islam.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
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