It perhaps comes as no shock that the number of people accused of ‘offences against religion’ has gone up exponentially, highlighting nothing but the sheer oppression, coercion and injustice faced by the most vulnerable citizens in society at the hands of the law. An anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Gujranwala on Tuesday sentenced three convicts to death — including two Christians and a Muslim — over charges of blasphemy. The strangest aspect of this case is that both the accused and the accusers have been handed the same punishment, which makes no sense considering that the judge would have had to find one story true over the other. Handing the death penalty to the accused implies that she believes he is guilty, but handing it to his accusers suggest that she finds that they concocted the story and hence committed blasphemy, which should allow Anjum Naz to walk free. But somehow, that is not the case.

A year ago, the Gujranwala city police faced a case in which Anjum Naz (accused of blasphemy), Javed Naz and Jaffer Ali (his accusers) were involved, in which Anjum Naz lodged a complaint against the other two for extorting money. They retorted by accusing Anjum Naz of blasphemy. The police then proceeded to arrest all three, even though the first was reportedly accused only for blackmail. Without any forensic checking of the voice recorded by Javed Naz, his brother was sentenced to death over a false allegation – with the police informed that Anjum Naz had committed blasphemy during a sermon at Locus School.

No rational individual can suggest that the law is not seriously abused and has a flawed construction when it comes to blasphemy, where in this case it perhaps seems that the charges should have ended at extortion, and those who accused him should have been made an example of. Disproportionately, the blasphemy laws have been invoked against the poorest in society and among non-Muslims — a negation of the constitutional equality guaranteed to all individuals. But the effects go deeper.

Today, the mere allegation of blasphemy can result in instant death at the hands of a charged mob - in this case, at the hands of the state. Unless something is done to change this, minorities will continue to bear the worst of this problematic law.