This Essay Is About Blasphemy In Pakistan It Is A Law By Which Anyone Can Be Punished Who Tries To Insult Islam , God And The Prophet In Any Manner.

1546 words - 6 pages

Every now and then from some dark corner of the country comes news about a prosecution under the blasphemy law. And every now and then an obliging district judge finding the person so charged guilty hands out a sentence of death. When this happens, the collective image of Pakistan takes another blow on the chin.Blasphemy is serious business but what exactly is it? Preferring form over substance we have turned it into a technical offence while leaving the larger context in which it might be seen unexplored.Setting aside the possibility of malicious prosecution - something, incidentally, which happens all the time - for argument's sake let us take the worst case scenario: that some benighted soul has actually burnt a page or two of the Quran or uttered sacrilegious words against God or his Prophet, (peace be upon him). Clearly, no man in his right senses would do such a thing, certainly not in Pakistan where religious sensitivities run high. But still if something of the sort is done, what does the perpetrator deserve? Our compassion and a psychiatric examination or a death sentence?Suppose in my street someone were to lay claim to godhead or divine revelation. I would be curious and perhaps a bit bemused. I certainly wouldn't go rushing to the police station to lodge a criminal complaint. Even if I was foolish enough to do so I would expect the SHO to tell me to cool it. But if valour prevailed over discretion and a case was indeed registered I would expect the judge concerned to throw out the case for lack of evidence.The trouble is that over the years bigotry and intolerance have made such deep inroads into our society that all three parties in the blasphemy cycle - complainant, police officer, judge - think that they are doing the right thing, and also earning divine favour into the bargain, when they are pressing charges under this law. This is zeal sanctioned by law and clothed in self-righteousness.I draw no analogies but consider also the case of the sectarian terrorist, he who murders in the name of Islam. Far from feeling any remorse for his actions, he glories in them because he is convinced that when he kills an 'infidel' he has struck a blow for the faith and has thereby earned for himself a place in paradise. Only in this case zeal is not sanctioned by law.Again, let us place this behaviour in context. The policies of the Zia regime, fertilized by a copious flow of American greenbacks, fostered the climate which made killing in the name of Islam a legit exercise. We ourselves of course are the authors of many of our misfortunes. But credit must also go to the United States for being the father of some of our discontents.Partly out of genuine belief, partly out of political expediency, Gen Zia pushed religious rhetoric down the throats of the Pakistani people, all the while applauded by the Reagan administration as a sentinel of the free world. The result is self-evident: falsehood and gimmickry in the name of Islam have distorted...

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