Since January 2023, there has been a hike in blasphemy cases registered in Pakistan. Most recently, a major heinous incident of extra judicial punishment was witnessed where an enraged mob unleased fur upon churches and houses of Christians in Jaranwala, District Faisalabad on August 16, 2023.
A report compiled by Eurasia Review reported that a total of 57 cases of blasphemy were registered in Pakistan since January 2023 till May. The report further outlined the fact that the highest number of such cases was reported from the Punjab province. The report says 28 cases were reported from Punjab while 16 cases of blasphemy were registered in Sindh. 5 cases were registered in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 5 cases were registered in Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Punjab province being the hotbed of blasphemy accusations where most of the blasphemy cases were registered.
Subsequent to devastating episodes of violence against religious minorities ostensibly based upon alleged blasphemy allegations, there has been an outcry for repealing the blasphemy laws. If not, at least demands were put forward to safeguard the religious minorities from being a prey of false blasphemy allegations.
Portraying the intensifying situation of misuse of blasphemy laws Amnesty International was quoted saying: “Pakistani authorities need no more evidence to see how dangerous the blasphemy laws are. The broad, vague and coercive nature of the blasphemy laws violate the human rights to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and freedom of expression. They have long been misused to target some of the most marginalized people in society. The blasphemy laws should be repealed as a matter of urgency and in the meantime, the authorities should put in place effective safeguards against their abuse. By ignoring the longstanding call to repeal the blasphemy laws and instead strengthen them by attempting to increase the punishment under such laws, Pakistani authorities continue to create a permissive environment for human rights violations.”
A study conducted in 2022 by the Centre for Research and Security casts a dismal picture for the religous minorities living in Pakistan. The study reveals that between the years 1947 and 2021, there were 89 instances where individuals were attacked and killed based on allegations of blasphemy, and during the same period, there were approximately 1,500 accusations and cases of blasphemy.