Pakistan’s parliament on Tuesday called for a reform of controversial blasphemy laws which prescribe the death penalty for insulting Islam, after a university student was killed by a mob on April 14.
A resolution passed by the National Assembly condemned the lynching of the student, terming it “clod-blooded murder” and expressing resolve “to ensure that strong safeguards may be inserted into the blasphemy law to prevent its abuse through such atrocities in the future.”
The move came as the country’s top court began a probe into the murder of the student from Abdul Wali Khan University in north-western Pakistan, allegedly for his views on sufi Islam and socialism.
The blasphemy laws are a highly sensitive subject in majority-Muslim Pakistan, and it is the first-time Pakistani members of parliament as a whole have called for such changes.
People accused of blasphemy have been gunned down, burned alive and bludgeoned to death in some cases.
A secular governor of the most popular Punjab province was shot dead by a police officer in his security detail after he called for the release of a Christian woman facing blasphemy charges in 2011.
NAN reports that a journalism student of the Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan was brutally beaten to death by a violent mob in Pakistan over allegations of promoting ‘blasphemous’ content on social media.
Another student was injured in the incident, which took place Thursday, April 14 within the university premises, prompting officials to shut down the campus and vacate hostels in order to restore peace.
According to a Dawn report, a total of 45 people have been detained in connection with the mob attack.
The Dawn article notes that the two students had never been officially charged under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and that the violence seemed to have been provoked by rumours circulating among the university’s students.
The Dawn quoted Mardan’s Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police, Mohammad Alam Shinwari, as saying that Mashal Khan, the student who was killed, was said to be running Facebook pages “which allegedly published blasphemous content” online.