Pakistan’s President, Asif Ali Zardari, called for a full review of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and necessary action taken to protect the rights of religious minorities reports the English-language daily Dawn.
MPA Pitanbar Sewani, speaking at the meeting on ‘Communities vulnerable because of their beliefs’, organised by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, said the president had responded to a point raised by him during a meeting held at the Sindh Chief Minister’s House.
He said he had raised the issue with the president that the blasphemy law was being misused and was a cause of harassment to the minorities and that it might be amended.
He said the president said: “The federal government may examine it and take necessary action.” And that action on this was to be taken by the federal law minister.
President Zardari has been a vocal supporter of women’s rights and the rights of religious minorities during his two-year tenure. Speaking on ‘Minorities Day’ in August, President Zardari reminded people of the sacrifices made by Pakistan’s minorities and their vital role in founding and building the nation.
“The Quaid’s vision is contained in his historic speech on this day in 1947 that laid down the foundations of a modern, tolerant and progressive Pakistan in which everyone will have equal rights regardless of creed and gender.”
In his 1947 address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, Pakistan’s founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, stated that, “the first duty of a government is to maintain law and order, so that the life, property and religious beliefs of its subjects are fully protected by the State.” He went on to express a vision of Pakistan’s future in which “all these angularities of the majority and minority communities…will vanish,” and made clear his belief that Pakistan was founded on the principle that “there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another.”
President Zardari’s call for a review of the blasphemy laws and the protection of religious minorities demonstrates a courageous political move amidst increasingly violent threats from Pakistan’s right-wing religious lobby. That his call to action is a reflection of the vision of Pakistan’s founding father Muhammad Ali Jinnah is not lost on the world community, and we fully support President Zardari’s move to protect the rights all of Pakistan’s citizens equally under the law.