Pakistani girl's release marks turning point for minorities
(Vatican Radio) The recent release on bail of a young Pakistani girl, fraudulently
accused of burning pages of the Koran, marks a turning point in the way government
leaders may be willing to protect minorities accused under the country’s harsh blasphemy
laws. That’s the view of Fr Robert McCullock, who worked for 34 years in Pakistan
before being appointed procurator general of the Columban Missionaries here in Rome.
Fr Robert met with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari earlier this year after receiving
an award for services to the country and discussed the need to tackle the ‘abuse and
misuse of the blasphemy laws’. Statements from Pakistani leaders about the case
of Rimsha Misih, released on bail last Friday, he says, show they are now willing
to confront local corruption and fundamentalist threats. It’s important, he adds,
for those leaders to be supported as they seek to restore the inclusive ideology upon
which Pakistan was originally founded…..
Listen to Fr Robert’s interview with
Vatican Radio’s Philippa Hitchen:
says the present government of Pakistan was left with the uncomfortable legacy of
the blasphemy laws “introduced by military dictator Zia Ul Haq who politicised Islam
and Islamised politics”, negating the founding ideology of the nation…..
says he spoke on Tuesday about the Rimsha case with Pakistan’s ambassador to the Holy
See who shared hopes “for her total freedom” through the ongoing judicial process….
Robert says “Its been a tragic incident for Rimsha, her family and the 250 Christian
families that live in that area. Nevertheless I believe we’re on the threshold of
a turning point in dealing with these horrible and unjust blasphemy laws. We cannot
expect the laws are going to be repealed – if legislation for that was brought into
the national assembly, there’d be riots in the streets and every non-Muslim person,
school, church would be threatened. The point is to directly approach the way in which
they are applied and that’s why we requested – and we see it’s being implemented –
they be lifted (from local level) onto the highest level in the province. I think
the president and leaders have to be positively supported – it’s a very difficult
path they’re walking, but thanks be to God they’re walking it.”