A recent report published on instances of extrajudicial killings in blasphemy cases has found that most of the incidents — 73% — took place in Punjab. Since 1947, at least 70 such murders have been reported in Punjab alone – averaging almost one per year.
According to the Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) in Islamabad, since 1947 a total of 89 people accused of blasphemy have been extrajudicially killed before they were tried in court.
Although minority communities make up just 5 per cent of the population, they are accused in nearly one-third of all blasphemy cases. Out of the total 484 minority community members accused of blasphemy, over 50 per cent have been Christians (264), nearly 40 per cent were Ahmadi (188), the remaining were Hindus (21), Pervaizis (7), Ismailies (1), Sikh (1), and Budhists (2).
Bushra Taseer from Sindh was the first woman recorded to have been accused of blasphemy in the country, after a tailor alleged that she had given him cloth to stitch, which had a religious inscription on it in 1996. Since then, 115 women have been accused of blasphemy, 16 of which were extrajudicially murdered.
Of female victims of extrajudicial killings on blasphemy charges, about 70 per cent belong to these minority communities; the majority of the murdered have been Christian women.
The first person ever accused of blasphemy in Pakistan was an Ahmadi man, Major Mahmud, who was stabbed and stoned to death in Quetta on August 11, 1948.
In a report on the Punjab Disturbances of 1953, Justice Muhammad Munir wrote of the incident:
“The Muslim Railway Employees Association had organized a meeting which was held on the evening of 11th August 1948. Some maulvis addressed the gathering and, the subject of their speech was khatm-i-nubuwwat (the finality of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)). In these speeches, references were made to the Qadianis’ (Ahmadis’) kufr (disbelief) and the consequences thereof.
“While the meeting was still in progress, Major Mahmud passed by the place where the meeting was being held. His car accidentally stopped near the place of the meeting and an effort to re-start it failed. Just then a mob came towards the car and pulled Major Mahmud out of it. He attempted to flee but was chased and literally stoned and stabbed to death, his entire gut having come out.”
Between 1987 and 2021, blasphemy accusations have gone up a reported 1,3000 per cent. From 1948 to 1978, only 11 cases of blasphemy were recorded, of them three were extra-judicially killed. From 1987 to March 2021, the number of cases reported jumped to 1,428 including 81 instances where the accused were extrajudicially murdered.