Pakistan is in a dire economic crisis and on the verge of collapse. While Islamabad is badly in need of a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to survive from this imminent disastrous situation, Pakistan is continuing patronizing and funding radical Islam and jihad and its nefarious conspiracy against India and Hindus. At the same time, Pakistan is enthusiastically hounding critics of radical Islam and jihad under its notorious blasphemy law.
The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) blocked Wikipedia on February 3, 2023 stating, it had refused to remove “sacrilegious contents” from the website. Back in 2020, Pakistani authorities had threatened Google and Wikipedia for “disseminating sacrilegious” content regarding Islamic beliefs held by minority Muslim sects, particularly Ahmadiyya. Although the February 3 ban on Wikipedia was overturned three day later, there is a evident surge in Pakistan’s notorious anti-blasphemy policymaking mainly targeting Ahmadis and other non-Muslim populace, which certainly emboldens Islamists and jihadists, thus granting state-patronization to these evil elements.
A Muslim man was lynched by a mob of rowdy Islamists in the eastern city of Nankana Sahib in Pakistan on February 11 on allegations of “desecrating” the Quran. The victim was brutally murdered inside a local police station, while law enforcement authorities simply witnessed the killing as a bystander. In Pakistan, police and law enforcement agencies are complicit in victimizing individuals and communities once Islamists conjure the accusation of blasphemy. Such notoriety of Islamists, which is backed by the state machinery and all political parties has been on alarming rise.
Penal Code in Pakistan, which was co-opted following Partition of Indian in 1947 from the Indian Penal Code of 1860, with Sections 295 and 298 dedicated to desecrating worship places and outraging religious sensibilities, respectively. Section 295-A was incorporated in the Indian Penal Code under British rule to curtail deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings. This was equally applicable to all religions. But during 1980s Pakistan’s military dictator Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq added Islam-specific clauses, defining violent penalties over blasphemy against Islam alone.
In January this year, Pakistan’s National Assembly passed amendment to the penal code to further expand its blasphemy laws. One of those amendments, the Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2023, ups the penalty from three years to life imprisonment for “disrespecting” the companions (including the caliphs), family, or wives of the Prophet Muhammad. The Pakistan Penal Code criminalizes any sacrilege against the Quran and the prophet, with penalties including capital punishment.
It may be mentioned here that, hundreds of people have been killed in Pakistan since 1947 under blasphemy allegations, while over 1,500 been imprisoned since 1987 – the year after the death penalty was introduced for heresy against Islam in Section 295 of the Pakistan Penal Code.
The most high-profile victim of Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws was former governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, who was murdered by his security guard Mumtaz Qadri in 2011. Salman Taseer was the staunchest critics blasphemy law. Although Salman Taseer’s assassin Mumtaz Qadri was executed in 2016 over terrorism charges, radical Muslims in Pakistan has now turned Qadri into a saint and have transformed his grave into a “holy Islamic shrine”.
This is a classic example of how Pakistani society considers a terrorist as a “saint” and hero.
In Pakistan, Islamic State (ISIS) and Pakistani Taliban have targeted Shiite mosques across the country, dubbing Shiites, comprising the second-largest sect of Islam, collectively guilty of sacrilege. And the Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2023, passed recently, is the systematization of this anti-Shiite narrative, which borders on codification of the entire sect’s excommunication. The new amendments to the blasphemy codes were introduced by Abdul Akbar Chitrali of Jamaat-e-Islami, an Islamist party that espouses radicalism against, among others, Shiite Muslims across South Asia.
The Sunni-Shiite divide has been militantly fanned by the Saudi-Iranian proxy wars over the past half a century, with Islamabad doing Riyadh’s bidding from the onset. This proliferated Salafi and Deobandi madrassa and propped up the correlated jihadist terrorists, including anti-Shiite outfits such as Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ). While these groups have militarily inclined toward the Islamic State and the Pakistani Taliban, their political wings have allied themselves with major political parties, especially in Punjab, which is historically dominated by ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
While PML-N has been collaborating with Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, its political rival, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) which is led by Imran Khan have backed the anti-Shiite legislation designed to uphold Sunni supremacism in Pakistan.
In Pakistan, this radical Islamist superstructure of jurisprudential takfir, blasphemy vigilantes, and state-sponsored jihad is founded on the fall of the first excommunication domino: the constitutional apostatizing of Ahmadiyya Islam. Just as Shiites in Pakistan today are being compelled into shunning their beliefs so as to be accepted as Muslims in Pakistan, Ahmadis were forced to do the same vis-à-vis their belief in their sect’s 19th-century founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, via the Second Amendment to the Pakistani Constitution in 1974. The official declaration of Ahmadis as non-Muslims was followed by Sections 298-B and 298-C a decade later, banning the community from “posing as Muslims,” including referring to Islamic literature or expressions, thus making Pakistan the only country in the world where an individual can be imprisoned for reciting the Quran.
For decades, Pakistani state-machinery particularly its spy agency Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) are actively supporting and funding terrorist and jihadist groups and plotting continuous conspiracy against India. One of Pakistan’s prime official policy is to spread seeds of terrorism in India and cause harm to country’s armed forces, law enforcement agencies, and innocent civilians.
With such track record of promoting and funding terrorism through South Asia and the world, policymakers in IMF need to think – whether Pakistan deserves any further financial support.
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