The killings in Gojra, Pakistan a month ago shocked the world; and the deaths of the Christians burned alive by Islamic militants highlighted the depths that the Taliban will stoop to in their quest to seize control of a country and force citizens to their backward views.
To its credit, the Pakistani government took swift action to defend Pakistan’s Christian communities and to bring the attackers to justice. In the past, it would not be uncommon to see an immediate reaction by Pakistani leaders to appease the world community, while coddling the very extremists responsible behind the scenes. But the Zardari government has shown, yet again, that a new regime is in place in Pakistan, and real democratization is on the march.
The Daily Times reports that National Assembly members, led by Farah Naz Ispahani and Javed Hashmi, are pushing for further investigations into the massacre in Gojra and to re-examine the nation’s “blasphemy laws.”
Human Rights Ministry Secretary Farid Khan told the committee that the incident reflected a complete failure on part of the intelligence agencies. “This is a complete failure of our system,” he said.
The committee members, including Farah Naz Ispahani and Javed Hashmi, observed that the incident was result of gross negligence of police who failed to preempt the situation.
Punjab Human Rights Minister Kamran Michael also spoke on the occasion and said it was true that some miscreants flared up the situation but there should be a complete investigation into the tragic incident in which Christians were killed.
This development further demonstrates a real effort on the part of Pakistan’s current government to do more than pay lip service to democratization and resistance to encroachment by militants, and should be encouraged by the world community.
In addition, the desire to revisit “blasphemy laws” which, however well intentioned, too easily invite manipulation by militant forces shows an important move towards liberalizing free speech laws.
Farah Naz Ispahani and Javed Hashmi deserve great credit for continuing the effort to strengthen democracy in Pakistan.