Pak `too weak` to handle blasphemy girl accusers

Rimsha Masih, believed to be around 14 years of age, was allegedly seen burning pages inscribed with Quranic verses.

Islamabad: Pakistani analysts, reacting to the minor Christian girl`s blasphemy case, have said the country is "too weak" to respond to such extremists blaming the girl of committing a blasphemy.

"The state is simply too weak to respond to such extremists. Scores of people have been killed who have been accused of blasphemy or were supporting those being abused by this law. The President tried to intervene once, but if he does it again, you never know, a `fatwa` (an Islamic directive) can be issued by a cleric for his assassination," the Christian Science Monitor quoted Asad Jamal, a legal expert and a human rights activist, as saying.

The girl, Rimsha Masih, believed to be around 14 years of age and reportedly suffering from some mental disability, was allegedly seen burning pages inscribed with Quranic verses. The news of the desecration spread like wild fire, following which furious locals bashed up Rimsha and her mother. The police later arrested Rimsha on the demand of the locals.

Rimsha, who has been in judicial custody since August 16, will remain in custody for another two weeks as her bail hearing was postponed on Friday.

Any perception of bias on the part of the state could start a firestorm among extremists due to the sensitive nature of the issue.

"The judge seemed intimidated by the lawyer of the accuser. I am really disappointed. We all expected that the girl will be out today. But she is still rotting in jail," said Father Emmanuel Yousuf, a representative of a Christian activist organisation.

Rao Abdur Raheem, the lawyer representing Rimsha`s accuser, who is fighting the case for free, said he will not let a blasphemer off the hook easily.

"This is a conspiracy to ridicule Islam, and incite Muslims. We will not let this happen in our country," he said.

Tahir Naveed Chaudhary, Rimsha`s lawyer, said there is a lot of pressure on the lower courts due to this case.

"Everyone is scared. We did not expect it to stretch this long, but it is not even in the control of President Zardari now," he said, referring to the inquiry President Asif Ali Zardari ordered when the issue came to light.