ASIA/PAKISTAN - NGOs: "The government has given in to pressure from extremists"

Saturday, 2 April 2016 blasphemy   religious minorities   violence   extrajudicial killings   islam  


Islamabad (Agenzia Fides) - The government of Pakistan has given in to seven out of ten requests presented by Islamic radical groups, supporters of Mumtaz Qadri, the confessed criminal of the governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer. This is what was reported in a statement sent to Fides by the NGO "Christian Solidarity Worldwide", along with a group of other civil society organizations in Pakistan.
Mumtaz Qadri was executed on February 29, after the death sentence was confirmed in third instance. On 4 January 2011 Qadri had killed the former governor of Punjab province, Salman Taseer, who had criticized the blasphemy law and defended the Christian Asia Bibi, sentenced to death and currently in prison.
The Islamic extremist groups organized a sit-in in the so-called "red zone" in past days, the maximum security area where Parliament and government buildings are located. The protests began on March 27 and ended on March 30, when the government agreed with seven of the ten requests: among them, the release of those arrested during the sit-in; the commitment not to amend Article 295 A, B and C of the blasphemy laws in Pakistan; the commitment to show no mercy to those convicted of blasphemy. "Civil society in Pakistan - notes CSW in the note sent to Fides - is shocked by the government's willingness to bow to the pressures of the protesters".
CSW noted: "After the tragedy of the attack in Lahore, the government in Pakistan must be more determined in protecting religious minorities. The fact that the government has given in highlights its inability to withstand the pressures of extremists and raise doubts about its commitment to ensuring the rights of all Pakistani citizens and to stop the abuse of the blasphemy law". (PA) (Agenzia Fides 02/04/2016)