Senate committee meeting discusses possibility of revisiting blasphemy laws

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PTI Senator Seemee Ezdi urged on Tuesday that the blasphemy law be reviewed in order to determine why mob violence episodes were occurring so frequently.

She spoke at a session of the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights today, which was presided over by Senator Walid Iqbal.

The committee voiced its concern at the absence of the state minister for human rights and the minister for human rights at the beginning of the hearing.

The Jaranwala event, in which a violent mob burned dozens of homes and churches over blasphemy accusations, was also discussed by the committee at one point.

Allah Dino Khowaja, the secretary of the Ministry for Human Rights, gave the committee a report on the Jaranwala incident. He said that two young Christians had been charged with defiling the Holy Qur’an.

He added that dozens of homes had suffered damage as a result of mob violence and that 92 people would receive compensation for the outburst.

The secretary claimed that the federation and the provinces lacked coordination. He suggested setting up a national coordination body and added that policing needed to be improved.

The committee supported the secretary’s proposal to establish a national coordination group to stop such occurrences from happening in the future.

PTI’s Seemee urged during the discussion that the blasphemy law be reviewed. Such instances did not occur as frequently in the past, she said, adding that it needed to be investigated to see whether “something was left out.”

Many individuals are reluctant to discuss this, she continued.

PML-N However, Senator Irfan Siddiqui disagreed with Seemee’s viewpoint. Without legislation, he said, “there will be no way to stop it.”

The “path should not be blocked,” he continued, adding that “there should be a law to prevent every incident.”

When this happened, Seemee remarked, “The path won’t be closed. We’ll examine the law.”