Voice for Justice Chairperson Joseph Johnson has strongly condemned the incident of threatening a Christian woman of implicating her in a blasphemy case.
In a press statement, he said that the Christian woman was honestly performing her duties as a security officer at the Karachi Airport’s cargo area and did let the vehicle move forward without an entrance pass.
“Thank God! the footage saved her from a horrible incident. Otherwise, her colleague would have made her life miserable who was intimidating her that he would call the clerics to cut her into pieces,” he said.
Mr. Johnson added that without the evidence of footage, she could have been assumed guilty before she could establish her innocence. The blasphemy law, he said, is often used against religious minorities to settle personal scores. “This emboldens extremist groups to take the law into their own hands which, at times, results in killing or lynching of the innocent people.”
He stressed the Sindh and federal governments to take prompt action to introduce measures to prevent the misuse of blasphemy law by devising the policies aimed at promoting tolerance and religious freedom in line with international standards.
A human rights activist, Ashiknaz Khokhar, said that such incidents were increasing day by day “with people at the helm of affairs entirely oblivious to it.”
He said that levelling blasphemy allegation was not a trivial thing, rather it put the life of the people in extreme peril. underlined the need for sensitising people about the misuse of blasphemy law through seminars, “which will also go a long way in achieving the goal of interfaith harmony.” According to his, before 1970s blasphemy incidents were almost non-existent, but later they witnessed a sharp increase.
He went on to add that procedural flaws in the blasphemy law, with special focus on proper verification of the incident and impartial investigation, should properly be addressed.
He hailed Asif Ali Zardari —former president of Pakistan and co-chairperson of the Pakistan Peoples Party, which rules the Sindh province where this incident occurred — for directing the authorities concerned to take stern action against the man who was threatening the Christian woman. He also praised the social media to highlight this matter in a befitting manner.
A member of the Sindh Assembly from PPP, Naveed Anthony, said that no one should be intimidated on the basis of religion. He added that decision of Civil Aviation Committee just to suspend him was is not satisfactory.
Likewise, member of the National Assembly, Naveed Aamir Jeeva, also visited family the house of the Christian woman and assured her of his all-out support.
Meanwhile, minority rights activist Zara Amoon Gill said that most of the minorities, transgenders, children and women at workplace were not safe in Pakistan. “Women at workplace are harassed and in the recent incident, a male staffer threatened to level serious charges of blasphemy, punishable by death in Pakistan, on her colleague at the workplace.”
In order to prevent such incidents, she suggested, the government needs to devise effective laws and ensure their strict implementation. “It is the responsibility of the Sindh government to conduct a fair inquiry and punish the person who made the false accusations.”