Tariq Abid (UWCAC ’11-13)
More news from Pakistan, this time the on-going trial over alleged blasphemy committed by a young Christian girl.
Blasphemy, in this case would loosely mean derogatory remarks actions committed by any individual against Allah or the ProphetSAW, who are the main focus of Islamic belief.
There’s been controversy over the handling of the issue, especially her arrest despite her being a minor. Then there was a huge twist in the story, with the arrest of the cleric (who accused the girl), on suspicion of his planting evidence to falsely incriminate accused girl. The details of the case are unresolved and sketchy at best, so it’s better not to comment on it as the case is underway.
However there are some apparent deep problems with the institutional framework of handling blasphemy issues. The most significant is how often amassed crowds take it upon themselves to try and execute punishments for these crimes, for instance in this case the girl was about to be attacked by such a crowd before intervention took place. This represents a possible deficit in the population’s trust in handling of these issues by the state justice mechanisms.
Another problem is the relatively recently seen trend of increasing tensions between religious communities in the country and alleged forced conversions.
There is also a massive controversy over the law that deals with blasphemy cases. Many have contended that this law is poorly constructed and has often been misused, not least because of the fact that it was created under a martial law regime and abused for political ends thereafter. However these attempts have come under extreme criticism from the conservative circles, who claim them to be an anti-Islamic ploy by ‘Westernized’ and ‘immoral’ liberals. The story of Salman Taseer’s death was the most prominent illustration of this conundrum. Due to the unparalleled controversy going on between the two contesting sides, it’s hard to ascertain on which side the facts lie. However, without jumping into this controversy, one can immediately recognize the fundamental questions that rise from these issues.
For one, how can the state ensure the lawful resolution of these accusations, without the involvement of angry mobs and extra judicial measure thereby? Is it the state’s job to punish these proclamations against religious characters, in the first place? How can the increasing inter faith tensions be contained? Another very significant question is whether the ultimate solution can about simply through political/administrative measures or is it rather a question of much more comprehensive and tedious social change?
These and other questions vitally need answer to be found for, if a fundamental social problem such as this is to be solved.
For now, though, the current dispute rolls on, and I expect more to inevitably keep coming up every now and then.
-United Words Team-