Believe it or not, blasphemy against Muhammad is of far greater concern in Pakistan than blasphemy against God, and anyone accused of this crime is dealt with very harshly. Gustakh-i-Rasul (blasphemy against the Prophet) in the nation’s penal code, 295-C, is defined as follows:
Use of derogatory remark etc., in respect of the Holy Prophet: whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) shall be punished with death or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.
The Law was introduced in 1986 by the military regime of Zia ul-Haqq as part of the shariah (Islamic Law). It was endorsed in 1992 by the government of Nawaz Sharif, and in 1993 extended to include names of the Prophet’s family. Still later, the Lahore High Court ruled that the anti-blasphemy law embraces all prophets. This is especially ominous for Christians who believe Noah drank wine, Moses murdered and David committed adultery.
Hence, though blasphemy against the Prophet was meant to assuage the “faithful,” it has mostly been used as a vicious vendetta against minority groups. Between 1986 and mid-1994 over one hundred Ahmadiyyas were accused of violating this decree; four Christians were charged and murdered; and others have died in mysterious circumstances. Indeed, numerous Pakistanis have suffered under the jurisdiction of this law, including Muslims.
Obviously, the country is becoming increasingly divided over this issue. One newspaper account “Cheers and Tears in Pakistan after Assassination” said a crowd of lawyers showered the assassin of Punjab’s governor with flowers, but less than two hundred miles away, the Prime Minister and others grieved. In the volatile aftermath, Prime Minister Gilani announced “We are not going to amend” blasphemy laws. And former President Musharraff added, “doing away with the blasphemy law is not at all possible.”
Yet one is heartened by a few courageous souls who dare to speak up, for example, Pakistan’s newspaper, The Dawn, questions whether the law is “an instrument of abuse.” Most opposition, however, comes from the outside, like India, or the recent strong denunciation by Bhutto’s son at Oxford University.
So, is there logic to support the law? If so, it is the logic of self-preservation and fear. No one wants to be viewed as disloyal to Islam, especially the Prophet. Christians need to pray that the current climate of brutality, bloodshed and Islamic slogans in Pakistan would create a greater openness to the gospel.
 In Islamic Ideology and Fundamentalism in Pakistan: Climate for Conversion to Christianity? (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1998) I suggest some Muslims turn to Christ because of the Islam they experience.
 Many Pakistani Muslims think General Zia, assassinated in 1988, instituted the law to prove his loyalty to Islam, but also to stay in power. Leaders to follow have often been accused of the same.