Senators urge parliament to act against misuse of blasphemy law

The Senate on Thursday deliberated on the Mashal Khan lynching case as the Senators urged the parliament to play its due role against misuse of the blasphemy law, reported Radio Pakistan.

Khan, a 23-year-old student of Abdul Wali Khan University, Mardan, was killed by a vigilante mob for allegedly “publishing blasphemous content online”, according to the initial police report.

Senator Farhatullah Babar of PPP in his inaugural remarks said that the mob violence was increasingly becoming a routine in the society. He said the parliament should play its role to prevent misuse of blasphemy law. “Some elements are suppressing the expression of freedom in the name of religion which is regrettable,” he added.

Senator Nihal Hashmi of PML-N said that blasphemy law prevents people from taking law in hands as the state is there to check any blasphemous act. He urged Ulema to give the true message of Islam. “Similarly, the liberal elements should also try better understanding of religion instead of criticising it,” he added.

Muhammad Azam Khan Swati said politicians, lawmakers, Ulema, lawyers and every segment of society will have to play their due role to change the extremist mindset and to present a soft image of Pakistan and Islam.

Sherry Rehman of PPP said, “Growing intolerance is becoming a serious issue of our society.” She said serious efforts should be made to check mob violence.

Rubina Khalid said that war against terrorism cannot be won without having a counter-narrative to check extremism in the country. She urged the Senate chairman to constitute a committee to evolve a counter-narrative.

Maulana Atta-ur-Rehman of JUI-F said, “No one should be allowed to take law into hands.” He said that his party expresses complete sympathy with Mashal Khan.

He continued that the implementation of the law in letter and spirit is the way forward to prevent such incidents. He said it will be inappropriate to talk about changing the blasphemy law on the basis of these incidents.

Aitzaz Ahsan of PPP also expressed his views and said that strict action should be taken against those responsible for the lynching of Mashal Khan. He said all the people, after identifying in the lynching video available, should not be given any clemency and everyone should be tried according to the law.

He said Mashal Khan lynching case should be tried in a military court for misuse of religion. He also urged the Senate chairman to form a committee to have detailed discussion with leading Ulema, lawyers, media persons and other important figures on the issue of extremist mindset so that a unanimous view could be sought to address the issue.

Shahi Syed of ANP said some people are doing politics on the issue of Mashal Khan which is regrettable. He said, “Action should be taken against the culprits, irrespective of their political affiliation.”

Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo of National Party said it will become difficult to live in a society if growing religious intolerance is not stopped. He requested all the political parties and Ulema to join hands against intolerance.

Mohammad Usman Khan Kakar proposed that Mashal Khan’s father should be given an award for demonstrating decency and courage even on the death of his son, whereas the department of Abdul Wali Khan University should be named after Mashal Khan.

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