Since elections are around the corner, any statement by a political leader can cause reverberations. And given the current chaotic political climate and the situation in Pakistan, the pot is bound to be stirred from time to time.
Recently, while addressing a conference in Islamabad, Imran Khan expressed his support for Pakistan’s blasphemy law – 295-C.
In his statement, Imran Khan indicated that he will offer protection for Pakistan’s Penal Code 295-C which prohibits blasphemy against any recognized religion, and provides penalties ranging from fine to death. Here’s the video:
'No one can call himself a Muslim if he doesn't believe Muhammad as the Last Prophet' @ImranKhanPTI defining Who's a Muslim and whose not.
Remember, it is a punishable offense in Pakistan if Ahmadis call themselves Muslims. pic.twitter.com/N3Lv2ExV0G
— A. Noor (@ABDVLNOOR) July 7, 2018
Section 295-C of Pakistan’s Penal Code refers to the mandate of the death penalty for use of offensive annotations in regard to the Holy Prophet (PBUH). The law clearly states:
“Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.”
The enforcement of this law has lead to the misuse of accusations on the minorities by the Muslim citizens for personal matters with no relation to blasphemy of any sort in the past. It also effectively leads to attacks on minorities by Muslims without proof of potential blasphemy.
Such an incident took place when a mob of 1,000 Muslims attacked a small town of Christians in Punjab and burnt down 14 to death. The attack was triggered by mere reports of desecration of the Holy Quran.
Another instance was when two Christian brothers were gunned down outside a courtroom due to accusations of writing a blasphemous letter against the Holy Prophet (PBUH).
Clearly, Pakistan’s relationship with the law in question has always been difficult. People are aware about past instances where things have ended badly for minority groups within Pakistan. This explains why people have a range of mixed reactions to Khan’s statements:
His declaration has ignited a heated debate on the internet.
Some came to his defense.
While others were not convinced.
Some were surprised by his supporters’ responses.
Some even pointed out facts from his previous statements.
The controversy that was sparked by his statement went a long way.
Conversations around the blasphemy law are never easy. It’s an intricate discussion that requires constructive discourse. Did Imran Khan handle it the best way, given he’s made promises to be the face of Naya Pakistan? You tell us. We hope for the best for Pakistan in the years to come. Share your thoughts with us in the comments.