ASIA/PAKISTAN - Prime Minister Sharif: punish blasphemy on web and abuse of the law, to protect minorities

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Islamabad (Agenzia Fides) - The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif intervened again on the issue of blasphemy. Sharif ordered to remove "blasphemous" content on websites and social media in Pakistan and to punish those who publish such material. "Effective measures must be taken immediately to remove and block such content", said the Prime Minister in a statement, appointing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan to contact international companies that manage social media (like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, which are very popular in Pakistan) and to demand the blocking of blasphemous messages. Sharif also claimed punishment for those who use the blasphemy laws in force improperly in Pakistan, to resolve private disputes.
In recent days, during a ceremony to commemorate the Hindu religious feast of Holi in the city of Karachi, Sharif assured he will act for minorities in Pakistan who are "treated unfairly". "It is reason of great satisfaction for the Pakistani nation to reject the politics of hatred", he said.
Blasphemy is a criminal offense in Pakistan, punishable by life imprisonment or death penalty. It is a deeply felt issue and often alleged insults towards Islam and Muhammad can be followed by mass violence, especially against religious minorities. According to the Centre for Research and Security Studies, a think tank in Islamabad, 65 people have been murdered for blasphemy in Pakistan since 1990. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 15/03/2017)