How can the Pakistani State and its Muslim citizens advocate for the right to preach and convert people to Islam in Western countries while denying the same rights to non-Muslims within Pakistan?

To deflect criticism and international pressure, regarding allowing Muslims to leave Islam, the Pakistani State adopts the tactic of officially not having an apostasy law. However, the reality is even grimmer for ex-Muslims, as the State resorts to charging them with blasphemy if they choose to renounce Islam.

This exacerbates the situation for ex-Muslims, considering that:

  • In cases of apostasy, one may potentially save their life by reverting to Islam within three days.
  • However, under blasphemy charges, repentance is not allowed in blasphemy cases, and the person should necessarily be killed. Moreover, they may spend around a decade in prison without any opportunity for bail before facing the ultimate punishment of death.

Adding to the complexity, the blasphemy law lacks a precise definition of what constitutes blasphemy. Instead, the definition is vague, stating that any Pakistani Muslim who feels their religious sentiments have been hurt, directly or indirectly, due to the actions or reasons of another (mostly a non-Muslim) person, can level blasphemy accusations and initiate a criminal case. For example, if a person leaves Islam and becomes an ex-Muslim, then it may hurt any Muslim and he can file a charge of blasphemy against him.

The Pakistani State skillfully employs this strategy to evade pressure from the Western world, asserting that it lacks apostasy laws while simultaneously subjecting ex-Muslims to the severe consequences of blasphemy charges. 

Please read the story of a Pakistani ex-Muslim apostate here:

Inheritance and property rights for apostates were prohibited by Pakistan in 1963.[190] In 1991, Tahir Iqbal, who had converted to Christianity from Islam, was arrested on charges of desecrating a copy of the Qur'an and making statements against Muhammad. While awaiting trial, he was denied bail on the presumption by a Sessions Court and the appeals Division of the Lahore High Court that conversion from Islam was a "cognizable offense". This decision was upheld by the High Court. ...

While there was no specific formal law prohibiting apostasy,[192] the laws against apostasy have been effectuated through Pakistan's blasphemy laws.[193] Under Article 295 of its penal code, any Pakistani Muslim who feels his or her religious feelings have been hurt, directly or indirectly, for any reason or any action of another Pakistani citizen can accuse blasphemy and open a criminal case against anyone.[194] According to the Federal Shariat Court, the punishment for any type of blasphemy is death.[195] AbdelFatteh Amor has observed that the Pakistani judiciary has tended to hold apostasy to be an offence, although Pakistanis have claimed otherwise.[196] The UN expressed concern in 2002 that Pakistan was still issuing death sentences for apostasy.[197]

Ex-Muslims are not only deprived of inheritance and property but they are also forcefully separated from their spouses and children too. According to Islam, the children of ‘apostates’ are still considered Muslims unless they reach adulthood without returning to Islam, in which case they may also be put to death.

Moreover, there is no option to state “no religion.” on National identity cards, issued by NADRA (link). This means, officially there exists not even a single atheist/agnostic in Pakistan. 

Despite the parliament proposing the apostasy law bill in 2006, as of today in 2024, it has not been enacted.

The primary reason for the delay lies in the fact that the bill initially allowed apostates three days to repent or face execution. However, the shrewd Pakistani State effectively abandoned this bill, opting instead to exert greater control over non-Muslims and ex-Muslims, punishing them more severely and with greater ease using blasphemy laws, and at the same time deceive the International community by telling them Pakistan has full religious liberties and there is no apostasy law in the country.