May 17, 2023
By Xari Jalil
At least 57 cases of alleged blasphemy emerged from January 1 to May 10, 2023, along with four extrajudicial killings. The highest abuse of the blasphemy law was reported in Punjab i.e. 28, followed by 16 in Sindh, eight in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and five in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
These figures have been revealed by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) and Peoples’ Commission for Minorities Rights (PCMR) who have also dispatched a detailed list of cases to government rights bodies, through which CSJ is trying to highlight the alarming incidents of violence related to false allegations of blasphemy.
In other figures in the data that CSJ has collected, since 1994, at least 92 persons have been killed after alleged offences related to religion. Out of these 50 were Muslims, followed by 23 Christians, 14 Ahmadis, two Hindus, and one Buddhist, while the religion of two persons could not be ascertained.
In light of this information, Justice (R) Nasira Javaid Iqbal, thePatron in Chief of PCMR, and Peter Jacob, the Executive Director of CSJ have urged a prompt response in an urgent appeal to the Federal Ministry of Human Rights, Standing Committees on Human Rights of the Senate and National Assembly of Pakistan, the National Commission for Human Rights and One-Man Commission set up by the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
In their appeal, both bodies stated that the blasphemy laws have consistently been used to settle personal scores, persecute minorities, and perpetrate mob violence and hatred in thousands of cases which the government has failed to address.
Sectarian and religious groups have created a climate of impunity for themselves entailing the infringement of freedom of expression, freedom of movement, and social interactions particularly for minority groups.
Therefore, they have appealed to the relevant government entities to help end the multiple violations under these heinous practices including studying the issue and forming a collective narrative against the use and abuse of religion and blasphemy law causing human rights violations. They also recommended that the government must take steps to implement the recommendations of the judicial inquiry conducted after the incident of the killing of innocent people in Gojra in 2009.
According to the data collected by CSJ, from a total of 57 cases, the most accused have been Muslims, especially men (46) with five Muslim women. These numbers are followed by two Christians (one male and one female); three Ahmadis (all males); and one man whose religion was unknown.
According to territory, most of the blasphemy cases took place in Punjab (28 cases), followed by Sindh (16), Khyber Pukhtunkhwa (8), and Azad Jammu & Kashmir (5).
The figures focus on stats collected from January to May 10, 2023. In January eight incidents took place, followed by a sharp rise in February with 17 cases. March saw seven case while once again in April there was a sharp increase with 19 cases, and in May (till the
10 th ) there were six more accused of blasphemy bringing the total to 57 accused.
According to data, a total of four blasphemy-related killings took place one from each district: Nankana Sahib, Narowal, Mardan, and Mirpur. Coincidentally all four were Muslim men who were killed.