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DATE=5/17/2000
TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
TITLE=PAK / BLASPHEMY LAW / L-O
NUMBER=2-262453
BYLINE=SCOTT ANGER
DATELINE=ISLAMABAD
CONTENT=
VOICED AT:
INTRO: Pakistan's military leader, General Pervez 
Musharraf, has withdrawn a proposal to make a key 
change in the country's controversial blasphemy law.  
From Islamabad, Correspondent Scott Anger reports the 
move follows pressure from Pakistan's religious 
parties, which had threatened a general strike to 
protest the amendment.  
TEXT:   Under mounting pressure from Pakistan's 
religious groups, General Pervez Musharraf says he is 
withdrawing the controversial plan to change the 
blasphemy law.  
In Pakistan, the death penalty applies for anyone 
found guilty of insulting Islam or the prophet 
Mohammed.  Under the general's proposed change, anyone 
with a blasphemy complaint would have had to register 
the case with an area administrator or the district 
commissioner.  Now, complaints will continue to be 
handled by the local police chief.  The proposed 
change was aimed at making the reporting process more 
official and harder to abuse.
Human rights groups - both domestic and international 
-- have been calling for the removal of the 
controversial blasphemy law.  They say it is often 
used in cases of intimidation and revenge.  
Since the military leader announced the proposed 
change at a human rights convention last month, 
religious parties across Pakistan had been condemning 
the move.  Religious leaders had announced a 
nationwide, three-day strike to protest the change.
Pakistan's blasphemy law was introduced in the mid-
1980's by military dictator General Zia ul-Haq.  It 
was widely seen as a move to please the Islamic 
fundamentalists in the country.   (SIGNED)
NEB/SA/wd
17-May-2000 06:06 AM EDT (17-May-2000 1006 UTC)
NNNN
Source: Voice of America
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