Advocacy Group Blasts Pakistani Politician's Request for Checks on Country's Controversial Blasphemy Laws


Date:  2014-04-20

By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

LONDON (ANS) -- A Pakistani advocacy group is blasting a statement from Asif Ali Zardari, the ex-president of Pakistan and co-chair of Pakistan People's Party.

Asif Ali Zardari

According to a news release from the Center for Legal Aid and Settlement in the UK (CLAAS), Ali Zardari's call about appealing to religious scholars "to deliberate to find a way for checking the misuse of the blasphemy law against minorities" is "nothing but an anecdote."

Speaking in the news release, Nasir Saeed, Director CLAAS-UK, said that after five years in power and the death of his two senior ministers who called for changes to the laws, Ali Zardari's statement - particularly on Easter Sunday - only served to rub salt in Christians' wounds, playing with their emotions.

Saeed said, "Blasphemy laws are considered a root cause of Christian's persecution. The practice has persisted for decades. Minorities feel very insecure as the Pakistani government has failed to stop the ongoing persecution and to provide justice. Christians have no option but to flee the country."

He added, "All Pakistani governments have failed to address these issues and take them seriously, even failing to bring to justice those who have been involved in attacking churches, burning Christians' houses and killing innocent Christians."

The news release said that the ongoing misuse of the blasphemy laws and increasing practice of forced conversion are serious matters faced by minorities. Pakistan is a member of the Commonwealth and the United Nations, and has signed several international treaties which the blasphemy laws breach.

According to the news release, due to Pakistani government "inaction," Christians have reached out to the international community and the situation has been discussed several times in the British House of Commons.

The British Prime Minister has reportedly told members of parliament that he will raise the issue of the misuse of the blasphemy laws with the Pakistani Prime Minister, Mian Nawaz Sharif in his upcoming April 29 meeting.

Saeed said it is embarrassing that those matters which are not being discussed in Pakistani parliament are being discussed in the UK parliament, and that the protection supposed to h ave been provided by the Pakistani prime minister to minorities, is instead being discussed by British Prime Minister Cameron.

Saed continued, "A very clear message is being sent to the world about how minorities are being treated, and how unprotected their rights, properties and lives are in Pakistan. All of the statements and claims that are issued by the Pakistani government and politicians, from time to time, about how minorities are enjoying equal rights and are safe, are proving to be false."

According to Saeed, "Mr. Zardari did nothing while he was in power to protect minorities, and his concern now cannot be taken seriously."

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