On which planet can I find Muhammad Taqi Riaz’s “Pakistan”, the egalitarian paradise that he describes in his delusional letter? This is planet Earth. What about Asia Bibi? What about Stephen Masih?
The plight of Asia Bibi has attracted worldwide condemnation. Here is a Christian girl in Punjab who drank water from a Muslim cup, thus kicking off a “jihad” that put her on death row for nine years until she was acquitted due to lack of evidence last October. Her release from jail has incited Muslim leaders and lynch mobs to hunt her down, forcing her into hiding where she remains. So much for the rule of law in Pakistan. And in a disgraceful abandonment of the UK’s moral compass, our cowardly, hypocritical and brazenly incompetent prime minister, Theresa May, refuses to offer the girl asylum for fear of “stoking tensions among the British Muslim community”.
Asia Bibi’s nightmare is not an isolated case. Just last week in Lahore, a mentally disabled Christian, Stephen Masih, was beaten up by a Muslim mob who accused him of blasphemy. As the US Commission on International Religious Freedom stated in 2015: “Pakistan represents one of the worst situations in the world for religious freedom”, an antithesis of the fanciful nirvana that Riaz presents.
“Pakistan respects and values its minorities, who enjoy equal rights and constitutional guarantees,” bleats Riaz. Oh yes? What about the clauses added to Pakistan’s Penal Code in 1980 that criminalise derogatory remarks about any Muslim? What about the further clause in 1982 that prescribes life imprisonment for desecration of the Koran? And what about the 1986 amendment that makes blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad a crime punishable by death? My final question – have you been smoking too much of the funny stuff for which your country is famous, Mr Riaz?