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In historic move, blasphemy case against Pakistani girl to be dropped

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However, despite the fact that the case was dropped, she had to be flown out of the prison to an unknown location to ensure her safety and has been in hiding since.

Mr. Chaudhry, Rimsha's lawyer, confirmed that the girl and her family are still under protective custody and it is unlikely that they will return home because of the threats to her life.

Analysts believe this is because radicalization in Pakistani society is quickly multiplying and has resulted in the current wave of militancy. That many groups in Pakistan are armed also poses a serious threat.

“The fact that she is still hiding points to a bigger problem in the society. A few years ago, when it became clear that two brothers accused of blasphemy were going to be acquitted in Faisalabad, they were shot dead outside the premises of the court,” says Marvi Sirmed, a minority rights activist. Ms. Sirmed was herself recently attacked by unknown gunmen in Islamabad, owing to her vocal views about human rights issues in Pakistan.

Sirmed says that the state has failed to protect its citizens in these cases. The root of the problem, she says, is extremism in Pakistan. “Christians are not the only one facing the wrath of blasphemy laws. In fact, the majority of the cases are against Muslims,” she points out. According to an independent study, 51 percent of Pakistanis charged with blasphemy are Muslim, while a human rights report found almost 58 percent of those accused were Muslim women.

“Instead of just changing laws, the state needs to introduce counter-radicalization strategies to tackle this rising extremism. And I don’t see the government taking such steps, which is alarming,” she says.

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