Since the ancient Greco-Romans to the Roman Catholic Church, inquisitions have been used by the State and people themselves to sort out personal vendettas, settle property feuds, and for censorship. Countless people have settled their scores under these laws and practices. The blasphemy law in Pakistan is just like a witch-hunt on many levels, starting with vigilantes, moral panic, mass hysteria and lynching. In more than 90 percent cases, the true reason for persecution under all of these allegations has hardly ever been religion itself. The easiest excuse is religion, since instigating blind rage and hatred is easy when religion is involved. Therefore, mob reactions can be ignited by merely pointing a finger at someone who owns a prime piece of land, has intentions to marry your daughter, has had one better over you or simply because you do not like them.
The inquisition gave the Church limitless power to expand its jurisdiction and to control and confiscate property at will. Decrees were announced accusing a person of heresy, blasphemy, witchcraft or whatever took their fancy, automatically allowing ownership of property to the Church. It seems the military dictator Ziaul Haq was inspired by the expansionism of the Catholic Church and therefore added Article 295-c and b which further marginalised the minorities in the country. This also gave the state a right to purge any and every thing, written or otherwise, which was deemed dangerous or perhaps in reality too enlightening for the masses.
For the past 34 years the Pakistani society has evolved within the parameters set by Zia’s regime. At least two generations were brainwashed into accepting the mutilated laws as the final words of God himself. The brutal murder of the unarmed governor of Punjab Salman Taseer for speaking out against the victimisation of a Christian Woman, imprisonment of a 17 year old student, lynching of a woman by a mob, implicating a child with downs syndrome in a 'false blasphemy' case and countless other such acts are a testament to Zia’s legacy embalmed in writing within the laws of Pakistan.
People commit horrific crimes and disrespect laws created for their protection just because of the frenzied way they have been made to understand religion. It is time to educate and spread awareness among the charged and constantly bifurcating society. The people together need to delve down into the history of blasphemy collectively and decide for themselves whether the laws should stay or not. For this, they need to be more open minded and clearly differentiate religious practice from suppressing human rights, to purging intellectual or economic growth. Otherwise 1400 AH will remain filled with tragedy, death and disease, just as the 14th century was for the Europeans.