Changes in Pakistan’s Blasphemy Law won’t change ministry vision.

By November 30, 2004

Pakistan (MNN)–In Pakistan, changes have been made in the blasphemy law that place limits on the abuses.

Under the 1986 Blasphemy Law, those found guilty of insulting the Koran face up to life imprisonment. Those who, “with words or writings, gestures or visible representations, direct or indirect insinuations, insult the holy name of the Prophet,” face the death penalty.

Too many loopholes in the law allowed an oral accusation, which led to personal abuses and vendettas. There are many documented cases where Muslim militants manipulated the law to persecute Christians or anyone who does not agree with them.

The changes allow only senior police officers to be able to investigate blasphemy cases. In addition, they will have to file criminal charges only after looking into allegations and not before.

However, the modifications didn’t fully answer Christian concerns. For those in evangelistic work, it makes a ‘creative access’ issue.

Interserve’s John Kennedy says they’re partnering with another agency in the outlying areas. “We have a couple who is serving for a number of years with the Hindu minority peoples of Pakistan in that southern province doing village evangelism–training of evangelists and supporting of their efforts in remote and rural villages.”

When asked if the country’s restrictive blasphemy law had interfered with ministry, Kennedy responded, “Not with that particular partner couple who are probably involved in the most direct kind of ministry in the church setting. They actually work under the leadership and auspices of the church of Pakistan. But, I know from the past that that remains an issue.”

Of Pakistan’s 143 million inhabitants, about 75% are Sunni Muslims, and 20% are Shiites. Catholics number a little over one million, and Christians less than one-percent.

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