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Blasphemy cases: Islamabad man wants court to fix trial period

SAMAA | - Posted: Aug 5, 2020 | Last Updated: 2 months ago
SAMAA |
Posted: Aug 5, 2020 | Last Updated: 2 months ago
Blasphemy cases: Islamabad man wants court to fix trial period

Photo: AFP

A man has approached the Islamabad High Court asking it to fix the period for the trial of blasphemy cases in Pakistan.

Lawyer Tariq Asad filed on Wednesday a petition on behalf of his client Hafiz Ehtesham.

Many blasphemy cases are being heard by the higher courts for many years now, he said. The judgement takes years to come and this may lead to anarchy. The petitioner has requested the court to direct authorities to make a law to fix the trial period for such cases.

Anti-terrorism courts should give their verdicts on blasphemy cases in a month, the petition said.

The interior ministry secretary, anti-terrorism courts and FIA have been named as respondents in the case.

The petition has been filed days after a man was shot dead at a Peshawar court during the hearing of a blasphemy case against him.

Tahir Ahmed Naseem, 47, a resident of Pishtakhara who was settled in the US, appeared before the court of Judge Shaukatullah when a man barged in and opened fire on him. Naseem died on the spot.

Naseem was first arrested in April 2018 after a local accused him of blasphemy. A case had been registered against Naseem under Section 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting Its religion or religious beliefs), 295-B (defiling of the Holy Quran), and 295-C (use of derogatory remarks against the Holy Prophet PBUH) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

The shooter, identified as Khalid, has been arrested and in police custody on physical remand.

Human rights activists condemned the killing and asked for justice for the victim’s family. “We urge Pakistan to take immediate action and pursue reforms that will prevent such a shameful tragedy from happening again,” said the US Embassy in a statement after the murder of the American citizen.

This is not the first time a person has been shot dead in the country on a blasphemy accusation. Former Punjab governor Salman Taseer was assassinated by his bodyguard Mumtaz Qadri, a former Elite force commando, on January 4, 2011 for speaking against the misuse of blasphemy laws in Pakistan.

Qadri was executed on February 29, 2016 after being convicted of the murder.

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