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Family of blasphemy accused demands justice, protection

Family of blasphemy accused demands justice, protection

By Urooj Zia (Pakistan Today; 06 January 2010)

KARACHI: Members of the extended family of Waseem Shahzad, who was accused in October of alleged blasphemy in Malir, have appealed to the government for justice and protection after the brutal assassination of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer.

Shahzad and his immediate family had gone underground and later left the country, after an ambiguous organisation called ‘Muhibaan-e Quran Pakistan’, backed by Sindh Zakat and Ushr Minister Muhammad Sajid Jokhio, had accused him of using pages from the Quran to fuel a bonfire while partying on the rooftop of his house. The organisation had also declared him ‘wajibul qatl’, and openly called for his murder.

The police, meanwhile, had continued to be dismissive of threats against Shahzad’s life, and even though Jokhio’s personal assistant, Nadeem Sheikh, had enthusiastically confirmed the minister’s participation in the entire incident, Jokhio himself had denied all knowledge of it, despite issuing press releasing backing the Muhibaan-e Quran Pakistan’s claims.

Shahzad’s father, Nazir Ahmed, spoke to journalists on Wednesday, and demanded protection for his family, and justice for his son who has denied the accusations. “Our business and personal lives have been completely ruined,” he said, adding that they had been forced to leave their home in Malir after the incident in October. “If the Punjab governor can be killed, how can ordinary people expect to survive false allegations of blasphemy, given the religious extremism and intolerance in this society,” he asked.

Ahmed added that they were being constantly harassed by law-enforcement personnel even though the latter had been told that Shahzad no longer lived in Pakistan. “They are investigating the case with preconceived notions, instead of trying to provide justice,” he said.

My previous pieces on this issue:

  • I broke this story in December. The pieces are online on the Pakistan Today website. Will link them here by tonight.
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