The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) told the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday that no evidence was found against the five bloggers accused in cases pertaining to publishing of blasphemous content online. The case opened up after the sudden disappearance of these activists this January and a wide social media campaign was organised to try and paint them as blasphemous. There was widespread support for their disappearance merely on accusations of blasphemy and death threats start pouring in very easily when such campaigns take off.
This case proves a very important point and that is the sensitivity around blasphemy accusations. All it takes is an accusation for people to take up arms and lynch the person to death. No one in the system waits for the charges to be proved and the intervention of the legal system comes in a little too late. The intervention from the authorities also comes in after much reluctance, rather in most cases the police force employed to keep the citizens safe are found accomplices in the act.
Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui heard the case and is quite right in pointing out that no action should be taken against the accused if no evidence could be found against them. It should be left upon the judicial system to check whether or not the accused has committed an act of blasphemy, and then take action accordingly. Several innocent lives are lost due to heightened emotions and the need for speedy justice in blasphemy matters. There are also instances of jail mates killing another inmate accused of blasphemy because they feel it is their duty to do so, despite being a law offender themselves. This is the amount of protection that the state has to offer a person accused of blasphemy.
At the same time, mainstream media houses also flare up the news to get more views and end up promoting citizens to take up arms against their fellow citizens. The government and the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) need to join hands to stop this injustice from taking place. They need to clamp down hard on irresponsible and unconfirmed spreading of blasphemy accusation. Mainstream media houses can easily be controlled by the government, whereas, cyber protection laws can be used to stop false blasphemy stories from being promoted on social media. Lastly, those falsely accusing people of blasphemy need to be held accountable too and brought before the court of law because these are lives on stake and must not be taken lightly.