Misused law.

THE acquittal of Shafqat Emmanuel and Shagufta by the Lahore High Court this week has once again underscored the deeply problematic and growing misuse of the blasphemy law. After spending seven years in jail, following the handing down of a death sentence to them by an additional district and sessions judge, the Christian couple has been acquitted of charges of sending a blasphemous text message to the complainant, a shopkeeper identified in some news reports as a mosque cleric.

Like many others before them, the couple spent nearly a decade locked away from their families, deprived of their freedom. At the time of her arrest, Shagufta worked as a helper at a school and earned a paltry Rs3,500 a month. Her husband, Shafqat, who is reportedly handicapped, owned a mobile repair shop. The couple from Gojra in Toba Tek Singh come from a very humble background, and one can only imagine how their four children must have fared during their prolonged incarceration.

Sadly, this story is not unique; others too have been falsely accused, languishing for years in jail, only to be acquitted by the higher courts. Asiya Bibi spent almost a decade in solitary confinement before the Supreme Court overturned her death sentence. At the moment, there are several individuals convicted of blasphemy by the lower courts, and awaiting justice from the higher...

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