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ANGER DATELINE=ISLAMABAD CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Pakistan's military leader, General Pervez Musharraf, has withdrawn a proposal to make a key change in the country's controversial blasphemy law.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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