Shaheed Qadri Vs Media Vulgarity

Shaheed Qadri Vs Media Vulgarity

Protesters in support of ‘Mumtaz Qadri’s verdict of killing Salman Taseer’ demanded to “diminish obscenity and vulgarity from Pakistani Media” which was seconded by a very senior Minister of Federal Government in a talk show that is quite popular. According to him there are many TV channels in the industry which could not be watched along with family. Representatives of protestors believed that Western culture, Indian dresses and themes are promoted on these channels which are not really a part of our culture. They also raised another demand that there shouldn’t be any amendment in the blasphemy law i.e. Article 295-C of Pakistan Penal Code 1860 while Nizam e Mustafa (PBUH) should be enforced throughout the country. Prior to negotiations, the most highlighted demand of the protesters was to add ‘shaheed’ or ‘martyr’ with the name of Mumtaz Qadri, along with the execution of the sentence imposed on Asia Masih. However, both demands were retreated. Why?

The protesters who joined hands in the name Mumtaz Qadri backed off from the two main demands and finally pointed out that vulgarity and obscenity of the media of Pakistan is one of the prominent issue.

Does Nizaam e Mustafa entail to cover women with burqah or let them choose to wear it?

How can you connect Nizaam e Mustafa and blasphemy with vulgarity of media?

Do they mean that this vulgarity on media led towards blasphemous issues?

Dear mullahs please figure it out. It has become hard to understand.

A very senior anchor while having this discussion on TV also highlighted the abusive language used by protesters and asked why it wasn’t vulgarity or obscenity to use such language in a public place. He also pointed out that besides dressing is there also the usage of abusive language on TV shows, while the law on using such language in public places is quite clear, as referred to in Section 294 of the Pakistan Penal Code 1860.

Moreover, ‘hate speech’ was made by different leaders from among the protesters, which was not invoked by the capital’s administration. Some believe that the protesters were unaware of the fact that making such remarks and using abusive language for the Supreme Court, Army Chief and different government officials doesn’t constitute hate speech, vulgarity or obscenity as all of these are limitations to the freedom of expression. The state needs to identify and connect these terms under the law whereas Salman Taseer believed that calling blasphemy a ‘black law’ is his right protected by the Constitution; the mullahs’ demand to prevent vulgarity and obscenity from Pakistani media is a restriction on their freedom; using abusive language and proclaiming hate speech in public is another limitation on ‘free speech’, especially while addressing the institutions of Pakistan; and at the end where a common citizen believes that ‘freedom of expression’ is his or her right to hold an opinion and express freely. The right to ‘freedom of expression’ doesn’t allow anyone to question or critically analyse Islam, this right is only available to mullahs in this Islamic republic. There is another restriction on this right where no one can raise questions on the life of Prophet (PBUH) or critically analyse it. The fact known to me is that Islam is the religion of tolerance, broad-mindedness and peace, which protects the rights of everyone without discrimination of religious beliefs.

After the execution of Mumtaz Qadri some believed that the government of Pakistan was moving towards the right direction, but now their belief has changed again; they say that it is strictly in the direction of the right wing. That doesn’t really imply that they should move towards the ‘left’, but we need to identify our values, our culture, and heritage in respect of the freedom of expression. There should be in place certain standards of vulgarity and obscenity before raising the issue with PEMRA. The media have paid for their freedom, whereas I believe that no mullah is allowed to take over the freedom of media and impose the tyranny of conservative Islam. Islam is never conservative, its liberalism is even beyond the policies of PEMRA or other laws of Pakistan. Raising objection on the dressing of women is a petty issue but mullahs still seem trapped in issues of vulgarity and obscenity; they don’t prioritize other issues in the country and are not ready to assist the public or the state in that regard. No one is anti-mullah, anti-Islam but the mullahs certainly need a direction.


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of or any organization with which he might be associated.

M Jahanzeb Butt

Author: M Jahanzeb Butt

The writer is a lawyer, lecturer and Ph.D scholar at the School of Law, Dalian Maritime University, China.