Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi dodged the question on the country’s controversial blasphemy laws while speaking at a session organized by U.S. think tank Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).
Kenneth Roth of the Human Rights Watch asked Abbasi whether he as prime minister would speak out against the blasphemy law under which a Christian man was recently sentenced to death for a poem he sent on WhatsApp that was deemed blasphemous.
Abbasi responded by saying:
The laws in the country are very clear, and it’s only up to the parliament to amend the laws. The job of the government is to make sure that the laws are not abused and innocent people are not prosecuted or prosecuted. So that’s my primary job. There has been debate on this issue in the provincial assemblies and in the national assembly, but it’s only up to the parliament to amend or change the laws.
NYTimes corresponded David Sanger urged Abbasi that he was “in a position of both great political and moral leadership” and should speak out on the issue, Abbasi said:
Well, I cannot comment on what is the law of the country. As I said, the only amendment that can happen to that law can be done by the parliament, and there are two houses to the parliament.
Asked to take moral stand against "blasphemy" executions, Pakistan PM opts for cowardice, says it's up to parliament https://t.co/xpUtn94FPW pic.twitter.com/QPBxrQI0ld
— Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth) September 21, 2017
Abbasi is currently in New York to attend the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly.