Last year, Pakistan also passed its cybercrime law, which upholds identical punishments for Penal Code violations in the cyber-sphere. This means that “blasphemy” would be punishable by death, even if committed online.
The immediate impact of January’s abductions was a mass exodus of anonymous secular bloggers from the web. Satirical publication Khabaristan Times was also banned by the PTA, while a shift in editorial policies has been visible in many online and mainstream liberal publications.
This is why Justice Siddiqui’s juxtaposition of “liberal secular extremists” and radical Islamists is critical. All state institutions echoing apologia for Islamists, and slamming secularists, is menacing for an already endangered species: the Pakistani atheist.
Delineating the ideological divide, which would result in any liberal ideals being thrown to the wolves, could’ve instigated Bangladesh-like violence had Pakistani freethinkers been a quasi-significant demographic. As it is, a few abductions, and banned web pages, were enough to silence many of us.