Why blasphemy remains unpardonable in Pakistan

Mobs rampaged through the Joseph Colony neighbourhood of Lahore in March last year after the allegations against Sawan Masih emerged. AFP

This is the third article in a five-part series on the untold story of Pakistan’s blasphemy law. Readers are recommended to read part 1 and 2 first to minimise confusion and clarify the context of this article.

Part 1: The untold story of Pakistan’s blasphemy law

Part 2: The fatwas that can change Pakistan’s blasphemy narrative

This is a story of a group of religious and religio-political actors who completely changed their position on the blasphemy law for what they perceived to be the greater good of the society.

It was not that long ago that the Pakistani ulema were openly stating a position on the blasphemy law that said blasphemy does not mandate a fixed penalty, and is a pardonable offense.

And then, something changed.

Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer’s assassination acted as a catalyst for a rapid shift from what they originally held to be true (not only expounded by others but by their own selves) to a much more radical and populist stance…