LAHORE: The trend has changed from Muslim complainants accusing non-Muslims of committing blasphemy to Muslims bringing allegations against Muslims, says a report released by Centre for Social Justice (CSJ). The report says, however, it would be wrong to assume any minority sect or religion identity has become immune to abuse. “The trend is also indicative of deepening sectarian divide and rise of abuse of religion. Faulty legislation is still a sword of Damocles on the citizens of Pakistan” it added.
The CSJ data released recently shows the abuse of blasphemy laws has increased exponentially in Pakistan. From 1987 to December 2020, at least 1855 persons have been alleged under the offences related to religion, mostly under sections 295 B, C to 298 C of the Pakistan Penal Code known as blasphemy laws.
The highest number of accused (200) was reported in the year 2020 while 75 percent of the accused were Muslims of whom 70pc were Shias. The others were Ahmadi 20pc, Christian 3.5pc, Hindu 1pc and the religion of 5pc was not confirmed.
Since 1987, the Punjab experienced the highest ratio of abuse of law and religion – 76pc followed by 19pc in Sindh. The prisons in Punjab housed 337 inmates in December 2020 which included undertrial and convicted, Lahore District Jail had the highest number of accused (60).
At least 78 persons had been killed extra-judicially after allegations related to blasphemy and apostasy, 42 of whom were Muslims, 23 Christians, nine Ahmadis, two Hindus and two persons whose religious identity could not be ascertained, the data says.
Peter Jacob, the Executive Director of CSJ said “these statistics depict Pakistan as a place where abuse of blasphemy is highest in the world.