Pakistan: Intolerant State

PAKISTAN DIARY

11-yr-old girl held in Pak on blasphemy charge 

Islamabad: An 11-year-old Christian girl has been arrested in the Pakistani capital on a charge of blasphemy after she was accused of burning pages of the Quran, police said on Saturday.

     Officials of Ramna police station said an FIR had been registered against Rimsha Masih, a resident of Umara Jaffar in Sector G-12 in Islamabad. The girl was arrested on Friday by personnel from a women’s police station after a man named Syed Muhammad Ummad filed a complaint against her.

     However, an NGO named ‘Christians in Pakistan’ reported on its website that the girl has Down Syndrome and had been falsely accused of burning 10 pages of the Quran. The NGO said other Christians living in Sector G-12 had been “threatened by extremists” who wanted to burn down their village on Friday. It said some 300 people had left their homes and were in hiding.

       The All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA) is providing assistance to people who have left their homes.

    National harmony minister Paul Bhatti, who is also chairman of the APMA, has contacted Islamic clerics and police to bring the situation under control.

    Rights activists have urged the government to reform or repeal the controversial blasphemy law, which they say is often misused to persecute minorities like Christians.

     Federal minister Paul Bhatti’s brother Shahbaz Bhatti, who was the minister for minority affairs, was gunned down by extremists in Islamabad in March last year after he called for the repeal of the blasphemy law. PTI

    Zardari to Sindh: Frame law to stop forced conversions 

      Against the backdrop of reports of mass migration of Pakistani Hindus to India, President Asif Ali Zardari has directed the Sindh government to frame a draft law to amend the constitution to prevent forced conversion of the minorities in the province. The president’s decision came after he was briefed about the concerns of Hindus by his sister Faryal Talpur, a PPP lawmaker and Sindh chief minister Qaim Ali Shah. Zardari directed Shah to form a committee under to prepare the draft law to amend the constitution. PTI

      Twin suicide attacks targeting security forces kill 23 in Pak 

      At least 17 people have been killed in a suicide attack targeting security forces and several other incidents of violence took place in Pakistan’s Balochistan and Sindh provinces, officials said on Saturday. In Sharifabad area of Quetta, a suicide bomber blew himself up at a Frontier Corps check post, killing five people, including three soldiers.

      In Karachi, the capital of Sindh, a fresh wave of violence erupted on Friday night when five men eating at a hotel were gunned down, while seven others were killed in different areas of the port city. PTI

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