How The Junaid Hafeez Case Appears: From The Other Side Of The Border
Note: The views expressed in this article are of the author alone, and do not in any way represent those of Naya Daur
Junaid Hafeez, a lecturer in English Literature at a university in Pakistan, has been sentenced to death for blasphemy by a court in Multan. He was arrested in 2013 and has since then been in solitary confinement. Many lawyers in Pakistan distributed sweets on hearing of the verdict, just as lawyers in Lahore showered rose petals on Mumtaz Qadri, the security guard who assasinated Punjab Governor Salman Taseer.
It is not just the “illiterates” in Pakistan who are “jaahil”. The problem includes much of the so-called “educated” class too.
A professor in a university in Pakistan informed me that when he criticized the murder of Salman Taseer in the staff room, his colleagues stared at him as if he had physically assaulted them. Some even threatened him of dire consequences unless he “shut up”.
Rashid Rehman, the lawyer who defended Junaid Hafeez, was told by the prosecuting lawyers in the court room that he will not be alive on the next date of the hearing, and sure enough, he was shot dead by unknown assailants soon thereafter. The lawyer who defended Asiya Bibi has fled the country. Defending a blasphemy accused (under section 295C of the Pakistan Penal Code ) is essentially tantamount to inviting a death sentence by the lawyer. And many of those accused of blasphemy in Pakistan are lynched even before the trial begins.
Moreover, it is well known that the blasphemy charge is usually made for some oblique motive e.g. to grab the property of the accused. Minorities in Pakistan e.g. Hindus, Christians and Sikhs are particularly vulnerable as they are often falsely accused of blasphemy.
As for the millions of Ahmadis in Pakistan, they live in terror – much like Jews in Nazi Germany, as mentioned in detail in my article “Barbaric persecution of Ahmadis in Pakistan” (see online).
So isn’t Pakistan a “jaahil” country? And isn’t this the logical and inevitable consequence of declaring Pakistan an Islamic state?
Markandey Katju is a former judge of the Supreme Court of India. He was also the Chairman of the Press Council of India.