KARACHI: A large number of people who staged a demonstration at the Karachi Press Club on Saturday demanded the immediate release of 11-year-old Christian girl Ramsha Misrik arrested on a blasphemy charge and abolition of discriminatory laws.
The participants in the demonstration, organised by the All Pakistan Christian League, also demanded a judicial inquiry into the issue to find out why a case had been registered against a girl suffering from mental impairments and what the motives of the accuser as well as the police were in registering the case.
Bishop Arshad Khokhar said no sane Christian could even think of desecrating the holy book or making blasphemous remarks about holy persons of any religion. He said the case against Ramsha was false and should be taken back and it should be found out why it was registered against a minor girl.
He demanded that amendments be made to Sections 295-B and C of the Pakistan Penal Code to stop their misuse and to protect innocent people against victimisation.
Civil society activist Nasir Mansoor said it was not correct that under the constitution all people were equal as the constitution had reserved top official posts — president, chief executive, etc — for Muslims. He demanded that discriminatory articles be removed from the constitution.
He said during Gen Zia’s rule the CIA and Pakistan state organs created religious extremists to fight the Russians, but after the Russians were gone the extremists turned their guns on the enlightened people of Pakistan. And minority communities and women being the most vulnerable sections of society were most victimised.
He alleged that in the interior of Sindh minor Hindu girls were kidnapped and forcibly converted to Islam and married off and the culprits had the support of local leaders, including PPP legislators.
Labour leader Habibuddin Junaidi said Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah had declared all citizens equal and announced that religion was everyone’s personal matter and the state had nothing to do with it. He deplored that later rulers, particularly the military ones, deviated from the Quaid’s path and started misuse of religion to prolong their rules.
Amjad Farooq, Safeena Javed, Mushtaq Matto, Sheema Kirmani, Ghazala Shafiq, Farhat Pervin, William Sadiq, Lateef Mughal, and others also spoke.
They said that since Sections 295- B and C were introduced hundreds of people had been victimised and more than 60 killed or burnt to death. They said the law was being grossly misused to settle personal scores.
The protesters also chanted such slogans as: ‘Ramsha Misrik and Asia Bibi be released immediately’, ‘Stop killing innocent people in the name of blasphemy’, ‘Abolish the blasphemy law’, ‘Talibanisation not acceptable’, ‘Killers of Shahbaz Bhatti be punished’ and ‘Killer of Salman Taseer be hanged’.
The demonstrators later took out a procession and after marching on various roads, including Sarwar Shaheed Road, Abdullah Haroon Road, Maulana Deen Mohammad Wafai Road, returned to the KPC and dispersed.
The organisations that took part in the demonstration included the Action Committee for Human Rights, Peace and Development; Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research, Tehreek-i-Niswan, Now communities, Pakistan Minority Alliance and Church of Pakistan.