A leading human rights and civil rights lawyer in Pakistan speaks to Pukaar News about some of the issues facing the country including the controversial blasphemy law.
Ansar Burney has worked on many high profile cases throughout his 30 year career and has lobbied and campaigned against the Pakistani government on numerous issues such as the death penalty, anti human trafficking laws, false imprisonment and slavery.
Pukaar News caught up with the famed lawyer on a recent trip to Norway. He explained why he is passionate about human rights and why he does what he does: “My work is for humanity, there is no difference in any nationality and in any religion.
“I have no sympathy whatsoever for hardened criminals or terrorists, but in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and middle eastern countries you will find most of the prisoners innocent.”
“When somebody gets justice and somebody is happy, I don’t want to see tears in the eyes of any human beings, I want to give them a smile and feel happiness and once I do this I feel very strong and happy”
Talking about the poor treatment of minorities in Pakistan, Ansar said: “Those who are living Pakistan whether they be Hindu, Sikh, Christian or whatever they are, for me they are just Pakistanis, there should be no discrimination with minorities, as soon as you say minorities it already creates differences between the nationality because if they are seen as minorities they are not Pakistani.
“This is the responsibility of the government to treat them as human beings, first nationals and then human beings because once they are seen as nationals, justice will be equal for everybody”
Ansar Burney also explains his thoughts on the controversial Blasphemy law in Pakistan which has been condemned by many countries throughout the world: “I am not in favour of the blasphemy law, because in Pakistan and in other poor countries you can buy a witness and the witness while being paid 15,000 to 20,000 he will take out a Koran and even with it in his hand he will go in to a court and he will say whatever the prosecutor wants him to say in the court”
Another high profile case in Pakistan is the case of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who was convicted of blasphemy by a Pakistani court, receiving a sentence of death by hanging. In 2009, she was involved in an argument with a group of Muslim women with whom she had been harvesting berries after the other women grew angry with her for drinking the same water as them. She was subsequently accused of insulting the Islamic prophet, Muhammad, a charge she denies, and was arrested and imprisoned.
“There is a big problem because the threats are with the judges as well, if he or she will release her there will be a big problem so now its depends on the president of Pakistan or the government of Pakistan what they are going to do, but for me, its not good what’s happening with Asia Bibi, because it was a fight over water not blasphemy,
“it was just a simple problem that was created by one Mula, I think there needs to be justice for her”
Talking about his hopes for Pakistan, Ansar said: “I am you and you are me, once you feel the pain of others and once you start giving happiness to others you will feel like a human being, if you give pain to others you are not a human being, giving a smile, giving happiness and try to be a family, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian they all are family, we should not hate anybody on the basis of religion or boundaries.