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Pakistani blasphemy laws and media coverage

21 September 2012


From the Revd Dr David L. Gosling

Sir, - During my recent four-year sojourn in Pakistan, I frequently visited the Peshawar Central Jail and met prisoners on Death Row. Most of the ones to whom I spoke - who included doctors, lawyers, engineers, and even a police superintendent - claimed to have been framed by the misuse of the kind of laws, good and bad, to which Nasir Saeed refers in his article, "A festering wound in Pakistan" (Comment, 14 September).

Selective attention to the plight of a few individuals can obscure the wider picture of a poor society struggling to improve itself, and of the external forces that are seen to be undermining both the Government and the majority religion. Nowhere in Western government or church circles - except recently in the Methodist Church - do I see any condemnation of the persistent killing of men, women, and children in the Pakistani/Afghan border areas by US drones; nor does anyone seem to care about the bombing of Shia pilgrims by Taliban extremists, or about Ahmadi Muslims, who are oppressed by exactly the same blasphemy laws as those used against Christians.

Yet pages and pages of newsprint have been expended over the plight of one girl whose unjust treatment was eventually redressed by the personal intervention of the President and the support of the All Pakistan Ulema Council.

May we have less partiality and a more comprehensive and inclusive sense of justice in press coverage?

(former Principal of Edwardes, College, Peshawar), 2 St Luke's Mews
Searle Street, Cambridge CB4 3DF


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