â€˜â€™On the 10th of June 2020, professor of Shah Abdul Latif University, Khairpur, was arrested by the local police under blasphemy chargesâ€™â€™
Blasphemy is incorporated in the Penal Code of Pakistan, which means that anyone who insults the Islam will be punished and in the worst-case scenario they carry a potential death sentence. It is speculated that these laws are being used to persecute minority faiths and unfairly target minorities. Between 1987 and 2017 at least 1,500 people were charged with blasphemy and at least 75 people involved in accusations of blasphemy were killed in Pakistan according to the Center for Social Justice.
Pakistan is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and therefore and therefore has the duty to respect protect and fulfill these rights. However, Pakistanâ€™s national blasphemy law violates the core rights of this Convent. Blasphemy laws violate the rights to life; freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief; freedom of opinion and expression. Pakistan fails to respect and protect its legal obligations in the international sphere. Even thoughPakistan has ben reprimanded that they are violating the international law standards, these blasphemy convictions keep occurring still in 2020.
On the 10th of June in Karachi, professor Sajid Somooro of Shah Abdul Latif University Khairpur was arrested on charges of blasphemy and sedition. Moments before his arrest Mr. Soomro called for help on Facebook â€˜â€™Friends, people of Sindh[i]. I am a 19-grade professor and currently at home. I wrote a post on Sufism (mysticism), which led to this development, itâ€™s all a reaction of my disagreement with a maulvi (cleric). Stand by meâ€™. Mr. Soomro is also known for his books on Sindhi- Mohajir unity. The allegations put on Mr. Somroo are so serious that under Section 295-A of the Pakistan Penal Code. The FIR was non-bailable. Such allegations makes matters difficult for many activists seeking to high ligt issues in society.
The incident did not stop here, when Dr. ArfanaMallah, who is a prominent human rights activist in Hyderabad India, expressed her dismay onFacebook, she was immediately subjected to a vicious campaign led by clerics with political associations, calling for her to be charged with blasphemy.
It is important to note that Mr. Soomro and Dr. Mallah have done nothing more then exercise their fundamental right to freedom of expression- their right as citizens which is their duty as being academic. Now a day it is common in Pakistan to put on blasphemy charges on anyone who dares to speak up.
The state must ensure the safety of its citizens and prohibit the misuse of the blasphemy and sedition laws to silence independent voices.
[i]Sindhiâ€™s are an ethnic community living in the Sindh province of Pakistan. Sindh province is the third largest province in Pakistan.Sindhi academics are often imprisoned for making use of their freedom of speech, thought and expressions.