Original Articles

Blasphemy law and the attitude of journalists and anchors – by John Bosco

I watched a programme on Asia Bibi and the amendments in Blasphemy Law on 30th November at News Beat and the programme host was Mehar Bukhari of Samaa TV. It is interesting to note that she has invited 2 senior journalists Saeed Chaudhry and Haroon Rasheed to justify that Blasphemy Law is right, and to criticize the people who are helping Asia Bibi. It is the duty of Anchor to ensure that the defending party should be given equal opportunity to speak his/her point of view. Nevertheless it seems she was failed to provide enough time to Federal Minister Shahbaz Bhatti to clarify the questions, even her character was more critical than others. It was not hidden she favoured her fellow journalist. Don’t you think this is yellow journalism? Biased Anchor?

Secondly Haroon Rasheed doesn’t know how to respect to the most respectable person amongst the Catholic Christian, (POP) and he is also the head of the State. How many times he or any one from you speak about any Muslim leaders? I would salute to Shahbaz Bhatti who listened patiently. I am sure if the similar remark comes from him you would have involved him in another blasphemy case or might be possible he would have killed in the studio.

Prove yourself to be a real Pakistani journalist, understands the realities. Haroon Rasheed said the pardon initiative is taking place under the pressure from Human Rights and Foreign Call. However he forgot the history, all the important issues whether it was a matter of justice to Mukhtarian Bibi, issue of Burning Quran, war in Iraq or Afghanistan are all raised by the foreign countries and NGOs. None of the Muslim countries involved? How many times Saudi Arabia stood with you on any of the above issues? You have to be thankful to the West atleast they help you raise your voices.

As far as raising the voices against Iraq & Afghan wars are concerned, I believe they both do not read English newspapers and watch English news channels, the western countries protested and agitated more than any Islamic Countries. Can anyone give us an example of Saudi Arabia – How many times they have raised these issues? How many Muslim countries raised voice for Afia Siddique’s release? This is only Pakistan who takes the responsibility of whole Muslim countries and these Muslim courtiers do not care what is happening with them.

Mehar has raised 3 or 4 times this question that why the blasphemy matter always raised in the PPP Government. The question is very simple who had the guts and courage to raise the voice at the time of Nawaz and Zia’s government, who were architect of these clauses. As far as Musharaf’s government is concern 75% people were from PML & MMA who were the part of its implementation at the time of Nawaz and Zia’s government.

Asia is a Pakistani and no matter what religion she has?. This is state’s responsibility to protect her. I would like to remind you that 295 B & 295 C were not included in the Pakistan Penal Code until 1986 and Christians live together with the Muslims like brothers and sisters before Pakistan came in 1947. There was no problem until 1986 and since 1927 till 1986 only 7 cases were reported of blasphemy.

It is not hidden from any one that 295 B, 295 C and such clauses were deliberately included in the Pakistan Penal Code to achieve the political support. Pakistan’s late dictator, Gen. Mohammed Zia ul-Haq in order to maintain his Govt, he created Federal Council (Majlis-e-Shura) consisting of such persons as the President may, by Order, determine. This Shura consisted of like minded people as they were selected not elected. As I stated above he needs to protect his seat thus he was on the mercy of their decisions, and the blasphemy law and other Islamic clauses included in the Pakistan Penal Code to gratify them.

In 1986 General Zia revised it again to be more strictly in accordance with the Sharia, and finally in 1992 it was revised again when the death penalty was made mandatory under the democratically-elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. History also showed that his successor Mian Nawaz Sharif ex Prime Minister of Pakistan followed his footsteps.

The October 1990 elections brought the Islamic Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI) into power. In addition to a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly, the alliance acquired control of all the four provincial assemblies and enjoyed the support of the military and the President. Mohammad Nawaz Sharif, as leader of the Pakistan Muslim League, the most prominent party in the IJI, was elected Prime Minister by the national assembly. He emerged as the most secure and powerful Pakistani Prime Minister since the mid-1970s.

The Pakistani Islamic Blasphemy law, Section 295/C of the Pakistan Penal Code, is vague and susceptible to abuse, but carries a mandatory death penalty, with practically no right to bail and is, therefore, inherently oppressive, unjust and unethical. It is widely abused as an instrument for terrorizing political opponents and members of religious minorities, and for settling political, sectarian and petty rivalries. This is nothing less than religious terrorism through the abuse of the state apparatus and the civil law.

Pakistani Christians thought after the Gojra incident false blasphemy cases should be stopped henceforth. However, this is not the case as the culprit behind such pictures never punished? Why they are not punished because of biased anchors and journalists who are behind them.

How can we return Asia’s 2 years which she spent in the Jail?

John Bosco, Independent Writer from London

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  • Haroon Rasheed is one of the most corrupt journalists in Pakistan. He took money from the army and wrote a book about ISI head Akhtar Abdur Rehman, in which he depicted the famous drug dealer as some modern day Saladin. He still takes money from the army and agencies; he is just shameless.

  • Uff, why give so much attention to such idiots, especially that double-faced bimbo Mehr Bokhari?

    She is hilarious. Dresses up in the most jazzy western clothes, has a ball at US embessy parties but then has the audacity to come and act like a female Imran khan in front of camera and use words like ‘maghrib nawaz.’

    I mean, is she for real? Mind my Latin, but this woman is just a silly little bimbo with a loud mouth and peanut sized brain.

  • Pakistan government urged to halt anti-Christian hate propaganda on television debates

    London: December 4, 2010. Nasir Saeed, director of CLAAS-UK, has written to the government of Pakistan about his concern over the increasingly grave situation surrounding Aasia Bibi’s death sentence and ongoing discussions about an amendment to the blasphemy laws, the underlying issue and the main source of persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in Pakistan.

    The death sentence imposed upon Aasia has provoked a renewed debate about amending the blasphemy law to stop its misuse. The impassioned debates on television channels, online and print media about amending the blasphemy law reveal how contentious and controversial the laws have become. Almost every Pakistani directly or indirectly is affected by this ongoing situation.

    Mr Saeed said: “I have seen how some of the participants become almost hysterical and as they are in the majority of the population, this could result in devastating consequences for the country and minorities in particular. I fear that this situation could be exploited by extremists and may lead to other serious incidents against Christians.”

    Mr Saeed has said that the situation has become very tense and there is now a need for all concerned to understand the sensitivity of the issue. The government, he said, must take appropriate steps to avoid any bloodshed and any other serious incidents occurring. For peace and harmony in the country, any incitement to hatred during TV debates must be either halted or moderated as soon as possible before the majority reacts violently on the strength of their stirred up and heightened emotions, as fundamentalists have already threatened to kill.

    New developments have see matters turn yet more serious as a new alliance of the religious groups has been formed against the release of Aasia Bibi and to stop any amendments in the blasphemy law. Lawyers have submitted a petition to the High Court to bar the president Asif Ali Zardari from pardoning Aasia. The High Court has accepted the petition and has barred the President from exercising this authority.

    The High Minister for Minority Affairs has issued a statement promising to bring about changes with the consultation of religious leaders, Islamic scholars, politicians, rights campaigners and members of the minority communities. Although PPP’s MNA Sherry Rehman and old colleagues of Benazir Bhutto have submitted a private bill to parliament, unfortunately PPP’s law minister Babar Awan has challenged any prospective changes to the blasphemy law and the Prime Minister, Yousaf Raza Gillani has refused amendments to the laws.

    Mr Saeed has said that the situation has grown increasingly serious and, in view of the history, heightened tensions and the necessity to safeguard the peace and reach a just solution, any public incitement to hatred must be curtailed whether it is on television or otherwise.

    He said: “I never expected such a horrific situation to arise out of the issue of amending the blasphemy law but we don’t want bloodshed in the country. We will continue our struggles for the release of Aasia Bibi and changes in the blasphemy law with the help of the international community and through diplomatic channels.

  • I AM MEHER BOKHARI, HEAR ME YELL (About Things I Don’t Really Know Much About)

    NOVEMBER 26, 2010
    tags: Blasphemy, Meher Bokhari, News Beat, Salmaan Taseer
    by kalakawa

    Do you guys know who MEHER BOKHARI is? In case you don’t, MEHER BOKHARI is an anchor on Samaa where she hosts a political talk show called News Beat. The defining feature of the show is her penchant for yelling. There really isn’t much more. So if you tune into Samaa when her show is on you’ll get an earful of MEHER BOKHARI yelling about the latest political controversy in the country. Sometimes with a child in her arms. Oh, she knows her drama.

    Recently MEHER BOKHARI had Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer on her show to discuss the Aasia Bibi blasphemy case, and in particular his effort towards getting her pardoned by the President.

    And MEHER BOKHARI was having none of it. Our feelings have been hurt. We demand blood. Here are some choice moments from the show:

    As part of the opening monologue MEHER BOKHARI says:

    “…and upon proving the occurrence of the crime the district judge handed down the death sentence to Aasia Bibi.”

    Yes. Once the crime was proven. This obviously had nothing to do with the baying mob demanding that Aasia Bibi be hanged, and everything to do with proof. After all, the word of a Muslim is likely to be more valid than that of a Christian lady.

    Angered by the Governor going directly to the President for clemency MEHER BOKHARI says:

    “Aasia Bibi still had two forums where she could have appealed. The High Court and the Supreme Court. Why go directly to the President?”

    Let her languish in prison for a crime she may not have committed and where she may be killed like previous people accused of blasphemy. Mercy isn’t something we should show without due process.

    How dare the Governor put all of us at risk, she asks:

    “Because of your actions, security at mosques and churches has had to be bumped up.”

    Greater security at mosques and churches? What a horrific idea! It’s not like they’ve been attacked before.

    But you declared Ahmadis Non-Muslims Governor:

    “The founder of your party passed a law in the 1970s that declared Ahmadis Non-Muslims. What is your opinion of this law?”

    Two wrongs! They DO make a right!

    Certainly the Governor can have no response to the overwhelming evidence against Aasia Bibi:

    “So, in your opinion, Governor, the confession given to the Panchaayat was false, the one and a half year long trial was wrong, the verdict was wrong, and the police investigation was inaccurate?”

    I certainly have never heard of instances where a vocal group of extreme people has been able to force our courts and police to do their bidding. I’m going to assume MEHER BOKHARI hasn’t either. We both hate Wikipedia.

    But Governor, she asks, what about us:

    “Governor Sahib, shouldn’t humanity also be extended towards those whose feelings have been hurt? Of the Muslims?”

    Life of a Christian woman is roughly equal to making me cry.

    It’s all about being human though, she exclaims:

    “But what’s the alternative Governor? Should we just allow a lynching of alleged blasphemers? Shouldn’t there be a state punishment to avoid such incidents?”

    Let the state kill them. It’s SO much better than getting our own hands dirty.

    You dumb fucking liberal extremists:

    “These West worshipping or liberal individuals, or mentality, it often forces this debate, which then makes the country look bad.”

    How dare anyone force us to look at our laws and have a debate on them? Only bad things come from debate. That’s why MEHER BOKHARI’s show is a bastion of rhetoric and bombast.

    Debate. Nuance. Sab gunah.

    How dare you call MEHER BOKHARI Western?

    “I am not Western.”

    But I do like their clothes:

    “The Blasphemy law was created in 1992. This is not Zia-ul-Haq’s creation.”

    ‘Between 1988 and 2005, Pakistani authorities charged 647 people with offences under the blasphemy laws.’

    Like I said, we hate Wikipedia.

    By the way, Governor, the Ulema are pissed off:

    “The Ulema have issued a fatwa against you saying that you are no longer a Muslim.”

    A bunch of Ulema with an ideological agenda to defend the Blasphemy laws have declared you a Non-Muslim, Governor. Isn’t that surprising?

    “According to the Constitution, a ‘Munafiq’ cannot hold a high ranking government position.”

    Not only has the Fatwa from some Ulema been issued, but it is also the truth. You must resign immediately. MEHER BOKHARI caught you out Gov. You must go now.

    Also, Governor, you just destroyed everything:

    “Do you feel like your steps are fanning the flames of religious hatred?”

    A Muslim man reaching out to help a Christian woman is the height of religious intolerance. We must all protest this wildly and set fire to a couple of fast food establishments.

    And now MEHER BOKHARI reads a memo:

    “There is a restricted and confidential notification of the Punjab government, which explicitly says this information should not be circulated.”

    But I am MEHER BOKHARI and I will fucking read this live on national television.


  • In Pakistan, after the draconian control of the Zia years, a free media is a new phenomenon and, as of now, this unfettered media is threatening to become a bull in a china shop. Apart from political propaganda it is fanning sectarianism. Religious programming is an even more slippery slope. Myriads of religious channels, each promoting the beliefs and practices of one particular sect, are on air. The marketing of various ‘brands’ of religion is dangerous to say the least. Often superstitious cultural practices of the unlettered are projected via such channels as religious rituals. Additionally, certain controversial religious figures are freely seen on TV. No effort is made by religious channels to promote better citizenship and ethical values. The power of religion over hearts and minds is unparalleled. This, coupled with the bad reputation the mullahs have acquired in Pakistan, demands that serious and urgent attention must be paid to this media genre. In the scenario of extremism and militancy it is a dangerous ride and media must abstain from it.