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Pakistan: Blasphemy

Question for Foreign and Commonwealth Office

UIN HL2763, tabled on 31 October 2017

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have made representations to the government of Pakistan following the lynching in April of Mashal Khan, a student of Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan, for allegedly publishing blasphemous content online and expressing liberal and secular views; if so, what response they have received; and whether they have made other representations to the government of Pakistan on cases involving deaths or imprisonment following breaches of the country’s blasphemy laws in the past 12 months.

Answered on

14 November 2017

We were deeply concerned by the case of Mashal Khan. We understand that a Supreme Court mandated investigation found no evidence of Mr Khan committing blasphemy. We also understand that 57 individuals were indicted in September and are currently facing trial in Pakistan’s Anti-Terror Courts in connection to this case.

The Government regularly applies diplomatic pressure on countries which implement blasphemy laws. These laws generally limit freedom of expression and are only compatible with international human rights law in narrow circumstances when they are used to prevent or punish incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence. The UK regularly raises our concerns about the blasphemy laws and their misuse with the Pakistani Government. The Foreign Secretary raised the blasphemy laws and their misuse during his visit to Pakistan in November 2016. The Minister for Asia and the Pacific, (Mr Field), discussed Pakistan’s blasphemy laws on 8 November on his visit to Pakistan. ​We will discuss Pakistan’s human rights record, including concerns about the blasphemy laws in more detail at its Universal Periodic Review.