The outrageous charges of blasphemy filed against 68 lawyers for protesting against police brutality is only the latest example of extremists defaming Pakistan in the world. International headlines have highlighted the misuse of blasphemy law, but there is an other element to the story that is receiving less attention but has much deeper consequences for the fate of the nation.
It would be bad enough if blasphemy laws were being misused in a revenge case by the police. What is more concerning, however, is that the victims of this case are mostly Shia lawyers, and the police used ASWJ – an extremist anti-Shia sectarian group – as their agent of revenge.
Among the lawyers framed in the FIR there are also a good number of lawyers from the Shia sect so that they would be easily made targets of the religious bigots and extremists.
The interesting point here is that the police enlisted the aid of a prominent religious group, the ASWJ, to file the blasphemy case in favour of the police. The ASWJ happily complied with the request by the police and offered its services as if it was looking for an opportunity to file a case of blasphemy.
Misuse of blasphemy laws is a serious issue. If police are believed to be working hand in hand with sectarian extremist groups, however, the consequences could be even more severe.