Chronology of Blasphemy Legislation in Pakistan

In order to put the record straight on the chronology of Blasphemy Legislation in Pakistan, following Timeline has been compiled using information from annual report of National Commission for Justice and Peace.

1860:

The original Penal Code is written, intended by the British Raj to govern united India.

1927:

Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, XXV of 1927. This adds two new articles to Section 295 of the Penal Code, [A] and [B]. Section 295-A prohibits “Deliberate/malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion”. Section 295-B is introduced, to deal with “Defiling, etc., of Holy Qur’an.”

August 11, 1947:

Pakistan comes into being. The 1860 Indian Penal Code is carried over into the legislation of Pakistan.

1982:

Pakistan Penal Code – P.P.C. (Amendment) Ordinance, I, further amends Section 295-B, extends penalty options to include life imprisonment. This Ordinance also introduces Section 295-C, which outlaws “Use of derogatory remarks, etc., in respect of the Holy Prophet.”

1986:

Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, III of 1986, Schedule 2, makes further additions, adding the option of “death penalty” to Section 295-C. This Amendment also made a minor amendment to Section 296 (Disturbing religious assembly)

1992:

Nawaz Sharif’s govt removes from Section 295-C (“derogatory terms against Prophet Mohammed”) the option of imposing a life sentence. As a result, convicted “blasphemers” are given a mandatory death sentence.

April 20, 2000:

The then military dictator General (now retired) Pervez Musharraf promises to ensure that a senior civil servant examines cases of blasphemy before charges are made. This announcement is made prior to the Local Bodies Elections (2000-010 and General Elections 2002.

May 17, 2000:

General Musharraf announces that he has abandoned his proposed change to blasphemy case procedure, and the law is to remain unchanged.He makes this announcement after the religious parties pressurized him, with whose support he would make a parliament in 2002 and would get 17th Constitutional Amendment passed in favour of his continued rule.

July 28, 2004:

The then Interior Minister Makhdoom Faisal Saleh Hayat says while talking to the news reporters that his government would amend any law which discriminates against citizens of Pakistan.

July 30, 2004

The then Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Ijaz ul-Haq (son of the ugliest military dictator Pakistan has sen, G Zia ul-Haq) promises blasphemy cases be investigated by a police superintendent prior to making such a charge on anyone.

September 19, 2005:

An alliance of 22 Sunni religious organizations gathered together to demand that Younis Masih, a Christian from Amer Sidhu, be hanged immediately. Masih had been charged on September 10, 2005, under Section 295-C after he made insulting remarks about Mohammed at a wedding party. Masih was beaten up by Christians and Muslims; but he and fellow Christians had to flee the area. Punjab’s minority affairs minister under Musharraf’s government, Joyce Rufin, had no sympathy. She said: “Any person who intentionally disrupts the atmosphere of peace and harmony between Muslims and Christians, needs to be punished by the law.” A mob of 200 Muslims had attacked the neighborhood where Younis Masih lived, causing 50 Christian families to flee.

January 2007:

Jamaat-i-Islami warns that it will challenge any amendment or abolition of blasphemy statutes by staging nationwide protests

May 31, 2007
First use of video evidence in a blasphemy trial. For reasons of security, Younis Masih gives evidence from jail. He is sentenced to death for breaching Section 295-C.
April 21, 2009
Supreme Court rejects an appeal against a Federal Sharia Court ruling that had declared that death is the only punishment for blasphemy allowed by Islamic law.
September 1, 2009
The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Human Rights urges government to re-examine blasphemy laws and procedures of enforcement. Faisalabad Regional Police Officer (RPO) Ahmed Raza blamed Punjab constabulary for disobeying orders during the Gojra attack.
September 17, 2009
Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s minister for minority affairs, is in Washington D.C. A Christian, he promises the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom that “the Pakistani government is to review, revisit and amend blasphemy laws so it will not remain a tool in the hands of extremists.”
September 19, 2009
Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, president of the PML-Q party (the party Musharraf belongs to) pledged his party to protesting any change to the existing blasphemy laws. He claimed that it was the duty of every Muslim to defend the blasphemy laws.
October 6, 2009
Former information minister Sherry Rehman and Jamila Gilani (a member of the National Assembly) called in the National Assembly for the blasphemy laws to be repealed. Sahibzada Fazal Karim, Central President of the JUP, responded: “We will not allow it.” The JUP is the Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan (Assembly of Pakistani Clergy), an Islamist party.
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26 thoughts on “Chronology of Blasphemy Legislation in Pakistan

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    People must be told through newspapers and wider circulation of proposed amendments (translated and simpified) , so that the next time such attempt is done, to bring change, public knows what is being talked about.

    Farhana

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