The head of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), Muhammad Khan Sherani, in an extremely surprising move, said he is willing to review blasphemy laws to decide if they are Islamic. However, in light of the chief’s recent stance on some controversial subjects, one cannot hope for him to revise the blasphemy law in favour of people who die every year, falsely accused by enemies to settle scores.

The usefulness of the CII has remained much debated in the Senate and rightly so. Even though the ‘advice’ of the council is non-binding, why then was it able to block a bill to impose harsher penalties for marrying off underage girls? The influence exerted is too much, too undemocratic and leads to what can only be called state sponsored terrorism against minorities. Sherani, a member of parliament represents the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (F) and has presented himself as the protector of the Islamic faith and the country’s constitution. In order to protect the society against the rampant immorality, his council has ruled that DNA cannot be used as primary evidence in rape cases, and supported a law that requires a woman alleging rape to get four male witnesses to testify in court before a case is heard. His rulings have set back the very slow progress towards protecting the rights of women (and children).

As far as the blasphemy law is concerned, change is already in the air as the Supreme Court has also called for improvements to the controversial law that makes people like Mumtaz Qadri a hero. It is possible that the chief, in light of recent criticism, feels that to retain this position of power he needs to mix things up to remain popular. If he manages to revise the death sentence, which is the current penalty of blasphemy, it will be the only positive thing to come out of his controversial tenure. However, ideally, his opinion should not matter at all. Laws should be revised by parliaments and judges, not clerics.