Rights Watch | 30th July 2020

Rights Watch

Man murdered for “blasphemy”

An elderly man accused of blasphemy was gunned down within the premises of the Peshawar Judicial Complex on Wednesday, July 29. The accused had been summoned from the Peshawar Central Jail for a hearing into his case.

During the hearing, the complainant claimed the accused was an Ahmadi and demanded he recites the Kalima Tayyabah, after which he shot and killed the “blasphemer”. Police promptly restrained the assailant on the spot and will conduct further investigations. Questions have been raised as to how the assailant managed to bring a gun with him despite high security.

The complainant had alleged the deceased believed he was the fourteenth Mujadid, amidst other allegations. After the shooting, the assailant expressed no regrets over his actions.

An FIR has been registered against the killer under section 302 (punishment for qatl-i-amd), section 7 of the Antiterrorism Act (ATA) and section 15 of the Army Act.

Concern over bill banning publications

Rights activists penned a letter to the Punjab Assembly expressing concern over the recently passed Tahaffuz-i-Bunyad-i-Islam Bill 2020, which prohibits importing, printing, publishing and retailing any book deemed to contain content contrary to the interests of the state and to religion. The letter questioned if freedom of expression, guaranteed by the Constitution of Pakistan, would remain intact with the bill in place.

Activists also pointed out that the ambiguous wording of what constitutes as obscenity in the bill may lead to violations of Article 25 of the Constitution, which may lead to discriminatory application in violation of Article 25 of the Constitution (equality of citizens).

Parents refuse polio vaccine

Parents of over 38,000 children in Karachi refused oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV) during the first phase of the country-wide anti-polio drive, which had initially been suspended in late March due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. However, after much convincing, around 20,000 children were then administered the vaccine, leaving 18,700 yet to receive the vaccine. However, the Sindh government reiterated that health workers will continue to engage with reluctant parents to eliminate any immunization gaps. So far, over 95% of the targeted 250,000 children across 23 union councils in Karachi have been administered the vaccine.

Fisherman’s body returned

Indian officials handed over the body of a Pakistani fisherman, Abdul Karim, who died in an Indian jail to the Edhi Foundation via the Wagah border on Wednesday, July 29. Karim, who hailed from Keamari,

Karachi accidentally drifted into Indian waters on January 8 and was arrested by the Indian coast guard. He was among the scores of fishermen who languish in jails for extended periods of time on either side under accusations of being foreign spies.