Dear Honorable Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry,
I am writing this open letter to you because the righting of wrongs is avowedly a part of your movement for judicial reform, and the matter in question must be particularly close to your heart, being as it is close to your first and last names too.
I read in the news today that a doctor in Hyderabad was arrested, and a case registered against him under the Blasphemy Act, when he threw the business card of a medical representative with the first name of Muhammad into the dustbin. Now I know that some people are thinking well that’s one small step back for all Pakistani Muslims, and one giant leap forward for all Pakistani Medical Representatives, but I for one wept with joy at the news.
You see, your exalted lordship, if indeed this report is true, I see in this ingenious application of a tragically misunderstood law…the Blasphemy Act is meant to protect the Quran and the Holy Prophet (PBUH) from ridicule, not expose them to it, I don’t know why some buffoons just don’t seem to get that… I see in this ingenious application of a tragically misunderstood law the seeds of the Great Pakistani Muslim Revival. Now that a precedent has been set, some of the biggest thorns in the nation’s side can be effectively removed, and some of its most cacophonous trumpets silenced.
I have listed below some of the cases that merit your most immediate, most esteemed, attention. I am sure, once the enthusiasm my idea will inevitably kindle in you has been communicated to all the appendages of the state, the judiciary and the general population, others will come forth with more scenarios too. Then, we can begin to cleanse the face of this nation, follow it up with some aggressive exfoliation, and enjoy the beatific effect of the spiritually moisturized smile we subsequently share with the world.
1) Any cricket player, official, reporter, commentator, spectator, umpire, random passer by who has ever expressed reservations about Muhammad Yousuf, Muhammad Amir or Muhammad Asif’s character in writing should be arrested and charged under the Blasphemy Act. That will really clean up the game.
2) Any school/college/kindegarden/madrassah teacher, principal, administrator or instructor who writes a negative comment in the report card of any student with the name of Muhammad should be arrested and charged under the Blasphemy Act. There should be a particularly harsh sentence for the sentence 'Muhammad is a bright child but is easily distracted and lacks the ability to concentrate on his work.'
3) Any college, school or kindergarten student who mistreats pages containing the name and verses of Allama Muhammad Iqbal (mistreatment including but not limited to burning, tearing, ripping, doodling in the margins or making planes out of or – in the case of the kindergarten kinder, eating) should be arrested and charged under the Blasphemy Act. Since the burden of proof of innocence is on the accused, the learned judge in charge of cases featuring minors must be hardened against tears, tantrums and wanton cries of ‘dudu biskit! dudu biskit!’
4) Any tandoorwala, paanwala, umroodwala, bhuttawala, chanawala, assortedwala who wraps his offerings in paper that contains the name Muhammad should be arrested and charged under the Blasphemy Act.
5) Any traffic policeman, immigration official or station house officer of any thana attempting to write a challan or file an FIR against any person with the name Muhammad on his driver’s license, passport or NIC should be arrested and charged under the Blasphemy Act.
6) Anyone coming into contact with books, pamphlets, promotional literature that contain the name Muhammad, or cards advertising services of aalims offering cures for love, impotence, curses, memory loss or age that happen to be named Muhammad, without showing said books, pamphlets, promotional literature or cards adequate respect (for the purposes of this argument let that be holding them below navel level or tossing them carelessly on to a seat or – in the case of the cards – out of the window) should be arrested and charged under the Blasphemy Act.
7) Any woman who has received a passionate letter from an admirer named Muhammad and, wanting to conceal it from the prying eyes of her younger siblings and/or parents, wadded it up into a ball and thrown it into a dustbin should be arrested and charged under the Blasphemy Act. (This, your lordship, I consider a particularly important lesson as it will teach our women to be wary of a significant percentage of the male population, urge them to toss their lovers but keep their letters, and hence do that little extra bit we need to safeguard their morals).
8) Any columnist, critic, reporter, journalist or opinion maker who questions your judgment in opening these floodgates should be arrested and charged under the Blasphemy Act.