The family members of Sajid Massih are waiting for doctors to inform them about the condition of their 24-year-old son who jumped from the fourth floor of the Federal Investigation Agency building in Lahore last week. There are still speculations going around about his health which is indeed critical. He has suffered a broken rib, jaw, legs and various internal injuries. A case has been filed against him by the FIA for an attempt to commit suicide. It is an appalling situation where before jumping off from the fourth floor he was just a suspect in a case, and now he is accused of attempting to commit suicide, which is a crime in Pakistan. Sajid has given a harrowing statement — during some 6-hour long investigation by the FIA Cyber Crime unit, his phone was taken for forensics, he was verbally and emotionally tortured, and then forced to have ‘oral sex’ with his paternal cousin. “He jumped out of the window.” This is the latest case echoing how people accused of blasphemy and their family are treated in Pakistan. The case of Sajid and Patras doesn’t stand in isolation. This is not the first time the cyber-crime unit of FIA has harassed and made someone take their own life. However, it is the first time that a victim of such ill treatment has been able to record his testimony on video and it’s making rounds on social media. Much credit goes to some brave journalists in the Pakistani newsrooms who still believe that their work is to stand with the oppressed and not the oppressor. Sajid’s cousin Patras, 17, has allegedly shared a sacrilegious image with a disclaimer that ‘this is an act of evil’ on January 20 on a Facebook page ‘Pagloon Ki Basti’. Patras works as a sweeper at a local bank in Shahdara in Northern Lahore. When the news of alleged blasphemy made it to the streets of Shahdara, the supporters of LYR blocked the road and demanded ‘justice’ for Muslims who happen to be the dominant majority. Since then approximately 600 families in Dhair area have vacated their homes and are running for safety. The excruciating memories of the atrocities of Gojra and Joseph Colony are still fresh in their lives. In present day Pakistan, to be accused of blasphemy is not only to be sentenced to death via vigilante mob, it is also one of the most frequently used tools to clamp down on dissent and free speech in both the online and offline spaces In present day Pakistan, to accuse someone of committing blasphemy, is not only an instant vigilante death sentence, it is also one of the most frequently used tools used to clamp down on dissent and free speech in online and offline spaces. In May last year, the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority circulated an ad asking all citizens to ‘report anything they see blasphemous on social media’ in an attempt to remove all blasphemous content online. PTA said that it received more than 3,000 complaints and found 1600 blasphemous websites which were reportedly blocked. The PECA 2016 has given unsolicited powers to the cybercrime wing and it appears that they have got a free ticket to get into any citizen’s bedroom. In the last 14 months, the country has witnessed a clamp down on free speech and political activism under the all-encompassing blanket of fighting cyber-crimes and blasphemy. There are many cases of young Pakistanis who are intimidated, harassed and forced to compromise their political views due to the fear of being accused of blasphemy. Reportedly, the cybercrime unit of FIA is calling and questioning political workers and students to be answerable for their activities on social media, mainly on twitter and Facebook. In some instances, citizens are forced to confess on record to the act of liking of blasphemous pages on Facebook. This information is kept as a blackmail tool for future use. The 4 bloggers abducted and later released last year were also framed under allegations of creating and publishing blasphemous content. While the bloggers were eventually cleared of all blasphemy charges, the intended damage was done by wrongly accusing them and using blasphemy concerns the excuse for clamping down on social media. Waqqas Goraya, one of the bloggers, after his release spoke at a side event at the UNHRC in Geneva about his experience and how he was ‘tortured for pleasure’. Goraya and others were interrogated for their alleged social media posts on a satirical Facebook page which is critical of religious radicalisation and the military. Social media has made it easier for authorities to trap and book someone under blasphemy law in Pakistan. For instance, Sial was interrogated by the cyber wing of the FIA for liking a Facebook page that he occasionally visited — he liked it and followed it for the political posts on it. However, in some cases, poor digital security practices have also led to people posting blasphemous material using the unsuspecting target’s social media profile. Youth from vulnerable communities like Patras are more easily victimised. In another case in June last year, Raza, 30 was found guilty of insulting Prophet Muhammad in an argument on social media. Raza belonged to a minority Shia community and his family argues that he was engaged in a sectarian debate on Facebook which led to his death sentence. Social media has truly become a battlefield for blasphemy allegations. If the person accused of blasphemy is not tried by the court, then the people take justice in their hands. In April last year, 23-year-old Mashal Khan was lynched by his angry class fellows who accused him of making offensive remarks against Islam. Mashal’s killers were first and then released which proves that blasphemy law Last week a court in Pakistan suspended the three-year jail term handed down to 25 suspects over the lynching of Mashal. There are dozens of similar cases. The accused are waiting for trials to be fair and not hasty. They are wishing for judges who are ready to listen to their cases. Even judges are afraid of making decisions and frequently request to be changed. Junaid Hafeez, a lecturer of Bahauddin Zakariya University in Multan and a Fulbright scholar has been long forgotten and waiting in solitary confinement since 2013. His trial is lingering because of frequent transfers of presiding judges and the absence of prosecution witnesses. Hafeez was accused of posting comments anonymously on a Facebook page, “So Called Liberals”. There is no evidence against him. His lawyer Rashid Rehman received multiple death threats for defending Hafeez. He told a reporter that defending someone accused of blasphemy in Pakistan is like “walking into the jaws of death”. Rashid Rehman was murdered in his chambers in 2016. The writer is journalist and human rights activist who has worked for over 10 years in Pakistan, Germany and Britain. She Tweets at @natrani Published in Daily Times, March 4th 2018.